After a tumultuous week at One Bills Drive with the release of offensive coordinator Turk Schonert, and release of starting left tackle Langston Walker, the season opener had arrived for Dick Jauronís Bills. The atmosphere was electric at Gillette stadium with the return of Tom Brady, and all of western New York as well as the media around the country knew how tall the task was for the Bills. Jim Kelly traveled with the team and was on the sidelines for the game, and the sight of that had to excite any Bills fan as the Bills tried to establish their no-huddle offense with new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt.
Unfortunately for the Bills this would be same story as it has been for the last three years on Monday Night Football, and that being another devastating 25-24 loss at the hands of the New England Patriots. The game started off with Laurence Maroney returning the opening kickoff 52 yards to midfield. The defense held as New England went for it on 4th and 1. The Bills defense got great penetration to make the stop. Now it was time for the debut of the no-huddle offense under new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt. After two plays that did not gain much yardage, Trent Edwards hit Josh Reed for a beautiful pass in between two defenders for 21 yards only to be called back because of an illegal formation penalty on Demetrius Bell. These were the types of errors that needed to be avoided in order for the Bills to pull off the upset.
The next drive Tom Brady drove that Patriots all the way down to the Bills 17, but Steven Gostkowski pushed a 41 yard field goal wide right, and the Bills had caught another break. Alex Van Peltís brilliant play calling started to show as he utilized Fred Jackson on a variety of runs and screen passes to get to the New England 11 yard line. Trent Edwards, with a defender in his face, rolled to the left and found Shawn Nelson in the flat as he ran it in to put Buffalo on top 7-0.
The Bills showed how much Aaron Schobel was missing in the passing game as he beat Matt Light for a sack. After the Bills next drive resulted in one first down, New England went on a 14 play 72 yard drive with Brady using the underneath passing game to Wes Welker and Randy Moss. They finished the drive off with a Fred Taylor one yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7. The Bills were doing a good job of hurrying Brady, and New England was relying on the short passing game to move the ball. After the next Bills drive stalled, New England took over with just over three minutes left in the second. Tom Brady tried to attempt a short pass, but Aaron Schobel read his eyes, leapt up and made an unbelievable grab. He motored into the endzone for a touchdown to put the Bills up 14-7.
New England managed to get a drive going at the end of the half and a Gostkowski field goal made it 14-10 going into the half. To start the second half both teams traded possessions without scoring until the Bills took over with just under six minutes left in the third quarter. Terrell Owens name had not been called yet until Edwards found T.O. open for 27 yards to the Patriots 28 to set up a Rian Lindell 40 yard field goal extending the Bills lead 17-10.
New England responded with another field goal on the next drive as Brady went back to the short passing game utilizing his running backs and wideouts. With a 17-13 lead, a critical play of the game happened when the Bills drove all the way to New England 26. Edwards was then sacked by Adalius Thomas for a 10 yard loss, however he was driven into the ground, and the Patriots were called for a critical roughing the passer penalty. The Bills took advantage and capped of the drive with a ten yard screen pass to Jackson for a touchdown.
The team was fired up with a 24-13 lead and five and a half minutes left in what looked to be headed toward the biggest victory in the last 10 years. Then the similar story played out again, the Bills went into a drop back defense not rushing many guys and Brady took the Patriots right down the field on an 11 play 81 yard drive capped by a touchdown pass to Ben Watson for 18 yards. Even though New England missed the two point conversion, many in Western New York were wondering, would a nightmare ending happen again?
On the ensuing kickoff as Leodis Mckelvin took the kickoff in the endzone, he decided to bring the ball out much to the horror of Buffalo fans. He promptly fumbled away the football and Brady responded with another touchdown to Watson to put New England up 25-24 after a missed two point conversion with 50 seconds left. The Bills had found a way to give up a lead double digit lead with 5 minutes left.
Edwards has a opportunity to win the game with two timeouts, and he opened the drive with a quick strike to Owens for 19 yards, but then the protection broke down on him as he was sacked twice, with one second left the Bills got a final play off, and Edwards threw down the middle to Derek Schouman for a 23 yard gain. Schouman lateral the football a few times before Roscoe Parrish fell on the ball at the New England 40 ending the game, and giving the Bills a heartbreaking finish in Foxboro.
A beautiful gameplan put together by Dick Jauron and his coaching staff puts the Bills on the brink of an upset victory, but yet again on Monday night, the Bills found a way to lose. The team will have to put this one behind them as they get ready for the home opener in Orchard Park against the Tampa Bay Bucs.
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