|Devin McCourty: Patriots overcome ‘bad defense’ for an opportunistic win||11.11.12 at 9:40 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Devin McCourty knows he and his Patriots defense got away with one on Sunday against the Bills.
Whether he was “living right” as he was asked afterward or just playing right, McCourty came up with the two biggest defensive plays of the day. He forced a C.J. Spiller fumble with 10 minutes left at the Patriots goal line that kept the Bills out of the end zone for three minutes.
Then, with the Bills at the Patriots 15 and threatening to score the game-winning touchdown, McCourty was in the right place at the right time when Ryan Fitzpatrick threw it into a group of four Patriots defensive backs. McCourty’s pick of the pass intended for T.J. Graham came with 23 seconds left and sealed a 37-31 win.
“Yeah, that was one of those right place, right time moments right there,” McCourty admitted afterward. “The ball [was] thrown right to me, so just making the catch and ending it was my focus at that time.”
Up until that point, it didn’t look so good.
The Bills had driven from their own 20 with 2:06 left to the Patriots 15 with little resistance, as the Patriots allowed completions of 21, 14 and 14 yards on the methodical march.
“Those last drives are always tough,” McCourty said. “The offense is throwing out whatever they haven’t called as their best stuff, they’re going to whatever works at that point in the game. So, when we get on the field defensively, it’s all about getting the stop we need defensively or a turnover or trying to make them go four-and-out. At that point, we’re just moving on each play, trying to get the stop. [If] that play’s gone, we’re trying to focus on the next play. Those two-minute drives are always tough. It went right down to the last second. That was big just to be able to go through that and get the win at the end.”
As for the forced a fumble at the one-yard line – recovered by Kyle Arrington – it’s another example of how important turnovers are to the Patriots existence.
“We know no matter what happens in the game, there’s nothing bigger than turnovers,” McCourty said. “I think throughout any level of football, turnovers are always a big part. A lot of times if you can just win that turnover ratio, you end up winning the game. We know each game we have to go out and win the turnover ratio. No matter what happens in the game, we have to come out on top with the turnover ratio.” Read the rest of this entry »
FOXBORO — For the first time in a long time, it appeared the Bills had the Patriots right where they wanted them heading into the final minute of a game at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots held a 37-31 advantage with just under a minute to play when the Bills took over control and began to march the ball into New England territory.
The drive began with just over two minutes to play at the Bills’ 20 yard-line. Big gains to Steve Johnson and Donald Jones brought the Bills to the Patriots’ 44 yard-line, but two injury timeouts left Buffalo with none remaining.
As running back C.J. Spiller hauled in a dump off pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick, took it 14 yards and ran out of bounds, it seemed like the Bills would steal one away from the Patriots for the first time at Gillette Stadium. All they needed was a touchdown.
“I had every idea we were going to score and win the ballgame by one,” Bills head coach Chan Gailey said after the game. “I mean, that was my total thought. I just knew we were going to do that.”
But that thought was spoiled on a miscommunication between Fitzpatrick and rookie receiver T.J. Graham, as Fitzpatrick was intercepted in the end zone by Devin McCourty with 23 seconds remaining in the game. A Patriots kneel down was all it took to rip the hearts from Bills.
Gailey said that Graham breaks the rout depending on the look the defense gives him. He chose to try and sneak behind McCourty, while Fitzpatrick threw for a rout across his face. Gailey said he’ll have to go back and look at the tape for more analysis.
With the win, the Patriots not only kept an unblemished record at Gillette Stadium against the Bills (now 11-0), but they also completed the 22nd sweep of the AFC East foe all-time in a series that began in 1960.
The Patriots have won 64 times over the Bills in history, which is the highest win total against any single opponent. And Tom Brady now has 20 regular season victories over the Bills – his most against any team in his career. Read the rest of this entry »
FOXBORO — The Patriots held C.J. Spiller to just 33 yards on eight carries on Sept. 30 in Western New York, a big reason why the Patriots were able to hold the Bills scoreless during a 38-0 run that helped them cruise to a 52-28 win.
Before those two games, Spiller had games of 169 and 123 yards against the Jets and Chiefs before getting injured in Week 3 against the Browns. He is averaging over seven yards a carry and has 24 catches out of the backfield at nearly 10 yards a clip.
He is the perfect complement to Fred Jackson and Tashard Choice. And the Patriots know that sweeping the season series starts with repeating their Week 4 effort when they held the Bills under 100 yards rushing and allowed a manageable 3.6 yards per carry.
“Obviously, they’re a two-headed monster, really a three-headed monster,” Jerod Mayo said this week. “Choice provides a spark off the bench as well. Anytime a guy is averaging seven yards a carry, you know they can always take it to the house so it’ll take a group effort. The front seven has to do an excellent job staying on blocks and hopefully making plays.
“His role has increased. He’s doing a lot more things for them. He catching a lot more screens, he’s breaking a lot more runs. I don’t think he was averaging seven yards a carry when we played them the first time.”
While the Patriots have been criticized non-stop for their inability to stop the pass, they’re allowing just 88 yards a game on the ground, tied for seventh in the NFL.
“Yeah, it is [satisfying] but you’re only as good as your last performance so we have to go out here and play well,” Mayo said.
|Bill Belichick warns his team about ‘sloppy’ play against the Bills||11.08.12 at 4:30 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Bill Belichick didn’t need the reminder.
He knows what has happened the last three times his team has taken on the Bills. In each game, there’s been dramatic momentum swings with different results.
In 2011, the Patriots built a 21-0 lead in the first quarter at Ralph Wilson Stadium and appeared well on their way to a 3-0 start to the season. Then their defense fell apart, Tom Brady threw interceptions and the Bills stormed back to win the game 34-31 on a field goal at the final gun.
Fast forward three months and the season finale at Gillette. It was the Bills who jumped out on the 12-3 Patriots 21-0 on New Year’s Day 2012. The Patriots woke up just in time and scored 49 straight points in a 49-21 demolition of Stevie Johnson and the Bills.
This year, on Sept. 30 in Western New York, the Patriots were down 21-7 in the third quarter. They then proceeded to score 38 straight points and devastated the Bills, 52-28. So, what gives?
“I think that’s one of the explosive parts of Buffalo’s game is that they’re able to go on runs and we’ve seen it before, where they’ll go 14, 17, 21 points and they go on a run,” Belichick said. “Of course that comes with big plays on offense, big plays in the kicking game, turnovers on defense. You just can’t relax against this team because they’re so explosive. They can take the ball away from you, they can score in the kicking game and they’re certainly capable of scoring from pretty much anywhere on the field offensively, whether its with [C.J.] Spiller, [Stevie] Johnson, [Donald] Jones, [Scott] Chandler, Fred Jackson, pick a guy.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Setting the scene: Patriots-Bills||09.30.12 at 10:03 am ET|
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 60s are expected for the 1 p.m. ET kickoff between the Patriots and Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Winds should be light out of the northeast between 5-10 mph. Showers are expected to taper off about an hour before kickoff, with an 80 percent chance of rain about an hour into the game.
The Patriots have already ruled out six players, including Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins. The offensive lineman will miss the game with a hip injury that caused him to miss practice all week. Mankins was left behind in New England and did not make the trip to Western New York with the team.
To provide insurance along the offensive line with Mankins out, the Patriots brought back Matt Tennant, signing the free agent on Saturday. Tennant, 25, was originally claimed off waivers by the Patriots from New Orleans on Sept. 1 and was released on Sept. 4, 2012. He is a veteran of two NFL seasons with the Saints. The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder was drafted by the Saints in the fifth round (158th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Boston College. He has played in 28 NFL games as the Saints primary backup at center and guard. Last season, he played in 12 regular season games and both postseason games. Tennant was released by the Saints on Aug. 31, 2012. Tennant will wear No. 69.
Donald Thomas, Marcus Cannon Nick McDonald and Tennant are the options for the Patriots to fill the void left by Mankins, with Dan Connolly possibly shifting to left guard and Thomas filling in at right guard, something Thomas did often in training camp and preseason. Cannon played guard in college before the Patriots moved him to right tackle.
Also out are wide receiver Julian Edelman (left hand), defensive linemen Justin Francis (ankle) and Brandon Deaderick (ankle), defensive back Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring) and tight end Aaron Hernandez (ankle).
As a result, the Patriots will need to scratch just one more player 90 minutes before kickoff. After making his debut last Sunday night, tight end Kellen Winslow was released for what Bill Belichick said was “personal reasons.” As a result, the Patriots head into today’s game with just three active tight ends.
One of those tight ends, Rob Gronkowski, is nursing a hip injury that showed up on Friday’s injury report as questionable but is expected to play.
For the Bills, running backs Fred Jackson (knee) and C.J. Spiller (shoulder) are listed as questionable for the game. Jackson missed the last two weeks with a knee injury while Spiller injured his shoulder in the first quarter of last week’s win in Cleveland.
Jackson has been cleared to play and Spiller is expected to play, according to Tim Graham of the Buffalo News.
The Bills will be looking to beat the Patriots in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1999-2000.
After last week’s debacle with the replacement officials in Baltimore, this week marks the first weekend back with the regular officials. John Parry will be the lead referee, wearing No. 132. The 47-year-old Parry has 12 years of NFL officiating experience and has been a referee since 2007. He is familiar with the Patriots, having served as the referee of Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.
Parry will be joined Dan Ferrell (umpire), Derick Bowers (head linesman), Rusty Baynes (line judge), Scott Edwards (field judge), Ron Torbert (side judge) and Perry Paganelli (back judge).
|Key Moment: Two big takeaways fuel second-half comeback for Patriots||01.01.12 at 5:51 pm ET|
FOXBORO — For the fourth consecutive week, the Patriots were able to turn well-timed turnovers into points, providing the key moment in their 49-21 win over the Bills in the regular-season finale for both teams.
On Sunday against the Bills, there were two big ones: The first one came with just over four minutes left in the third quarter and the Bills clinging to a 21-20 lead. With Buffalo facing a second and 2 at their own 28, Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick dropped back to pass and looked left. He flung a short pass out there, meant for wide receiver Ruvell Martin. The ball was picked off by Sterling Moore, who took it back to the Buffalo 25. New England then followed that up with a five-play, 25-yard drive that ended when Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski on a perfectly run route from 17 yards out. A two-point conversion made it 28-21, Patriots.
“I just wanted to be physical at the line of scrimmage, and I knew the ball was going to have to come out quick,” Moore said of the first of his two interceptions. “So after about five yards, I went to head back around and the ball was coming, so I just tried to dive in front and get my hands on it.”
On Buffalo’s next drive, Fitzpatrick managed to guide the Bills to the New England 32-yard line, and with a first and 10, Fitzpatrick went deep down the field for C.J. Spiller. This one was picked off by Devin McCourty, the second straight game where the Rutgers product was able to come away with a pick. McCourty took it back all the way to the Buffalo 47-yard line. After a 44-yard pass from Brady to Aaron Hernandez, BenJarvus Green-Ellis rumbled in from three yards out to give New England a 35-21 lead with 11:20 remaining in the game.
“The ball got tipped, and I just remember in college, my defensive backs coach always used to say, ‘When you’re in the middle of the field, you can make a lot of interceptions on tipped balls,’“ McCourty said. “Once it was in the air, I was just trying to track it down and get to it.”
|Setting the scene: Patriots-Bills||09.25.11 at 11:05 am ET|
The Patriots have beaten the Bills 15 straight times dating back to Sept. 7, 2003. This figures to be a far bigger test than the previous 15 encounters for a number of different reasons.
The Bills have proven to be a far more dynamic offense in the first two weeks, hanging up 41 and 38 points, respectively, in wins over the Chiefs (on the road) and the Raiders. They have the perfect tandem of speed, power and finesse in the backfield with NFL-leading Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.
The Bills have home field advantage back. Ralph Wilson Stadium has not always been filled the last 10 years. It’s one of those sites in the NFL that has been hard-hit by the economy with 10,000 empty seats not unusual with a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs in over a decade. It has gotten so bad that the Bills have had “home” games in Toronto, with rumblings that Bills ownership might be willing to move the team – even north of the border to get out of Western New York.
But that malaise won’t be the case today as Bills have sold out the 68,000-seat facility. It’s expected to be so loud that Patriots players have readily admitted this week they have to get off to a quick start to make sure it doesn’t become a factor. The Patriots even played loud music like “JUMP” inside Gillette Stadium on Friday morning to simulate the expected conditions today at Ralph Wilson.
“We know their crowd will be going early, so it’s important to get off to a good start this week,” said Wes Welker, who remarkably has never scored a touchdown in 14 previous career games against the Bills, both with the Patriots and the Dolphins.
Harvard product Ryan Fitzpatrick is in complete control of the passing game and has become a true leader. With the Bills trailing 21-3 at halftime in their home opener, Fitzpatrick threw three second-half touchdowns and completed 28-of-46 passes. He joined Jim Kelly in becoming the second QB in Bills history to throw seven touchdowns in the first two games of a season. Kelly had eight in 1991.
Fitzpatrick not only leads the NFL in TD passes but is 6th in the league in QB rating at 109.6, completing 45-of-71 passes for 472 yards.
Of course, the quarterback he’s facing did MORE than that in his opening game, as Tom Brady threw for 517 yards and four touchdowns in the win over the Dolphins on Sept. 12. Six days later, Brady became the first QB in history to follow up a 500-yard game with a game of 400 yards, throwing for 423 yards in a 35-21 win over the Chargers.
The Bills believe in Chan Gailey. The second-year coach in Buffalo has his players believing. They are 6-4 in their last 10 since starting the 2010 season 0-8. That included a crowning moment in Cincinnati. With the Bills getting blown out 28-7 at Paul Brown Stadium at halftime, Fitzpatrick and Gailey rallied the troops, outscoring the Bengals 42-3 in the second half in a 49-31 win.
The Patriots defense is not good right now. And it will be without Patrick Chung (out with a right thumb injury) and Albert Haynesworth (back). The Patriots D is ranked 31st in the league so far in yards allowed.
2013 PATRIOTS DRAFT PICKS
2013 NFL DRAFT
- Rob Gronkowski Undergoes Successful Forearm Surgery
- Patriots Sign WR Mark Harrison, K David Ruffer; Fill Roster
- Brandon Spikes Absent From Patriots OTAs
- New England Patriots Links 5/20/13 - Brady Better Than Ever; OTAs Begin
- Dwight Freeney Signs With Chargers; Pats Showed 'Last Minute Interest'
- USA Today: Gronkowski Dealing With Back Issue, Could Face (Another)...
- Patriots Sign Second-Round Pick Jamie Collins