It was an audacious beginning to say the least. The Bills newly revamped defense came out with all guns firing as they combined with the potent offense to whitewash the New England Patriots 31-0. Having Lawyer Milloy playing on the Bills side instead of opposing him may have played a huge part in this game.
The NFL was rocked this week when the Patriots released the Pro Bowl safety and the Bills quickly signed him a couple days later. Milloy played most of the game against his former team and was a big obstacle to the Pats, both on the field and in their heads. When Pats coach Bill Belichick cut Milloy early last week, it sent shock waves through the Pats dressing room and throughout New England. The Patriots played like they were still in a state of shock for most of the first half as the Bills took a commanding 21-0 lead on New England. Milloy got instant revenge on Belichick and the Pats, getting a sack, 5 tackles and forcing an interception in the endzone. Milloy was able to deflect a Tom Brady pass to David Patten in the endzone that Nate Clements picked off.
For Drew Bledsoe, he finally got his revenge a year after leaving New England. Last season, Belichick devised some masterful defenses to contain the Bills explosive offense and Bledsoe. While Bledsoe says that he wasn't overly pumped up for the Pats last year, Bills receiver Eric Moulds says that he was pressing too much last season. The Bledsoe who took the field Sunday was the cool, calm leader the Bills hoped he would be when they traded for him. He directed the Bills to touchdown drives of 80 and 90 yards the first two Bills possessions. All told, Bledsoe passed for 230 yards, completing 17 of 28 for a score and one pick. He finally got the monkey off his back called Belichick.
Belichick, who has been devising game plans to beat the Bills from when his Giants beat the Bills in Super Bowl XXV, to containing both Doug Flutie and Bledsoe, finally was got a taste of his own medicine from the Bills.
"They outplayed us in every phase of the game and you've gotta give them all the credit in the world," said a devastated Belichick after the game. "They just beat us every way they could beat us today and they deserved to win by the score that they won by. We just didn't play well, we didn't coach well, we just got beat."
Bledsoe stayed in the pocket and had a lot more time to throw against the Pats than he did a year ago. Having Sam Gash, one of the all-time blockers in the game, helped give Bledsoe the extra time he needed.
Moulds, who caught 4 for 81 yards, gave full marks to the defense.
"I think our defense played awesome," Moulds said. "Takeo Spikes and Sam Adams can turn their play up a notch at any time."
The running of Travis Henry was inspiring for the Bills. Henry got 86 yards on 28 carries and found the endzone twice. He also had a very untimely fumble that could have turned the game around, but the Bills defense held when the Pats decided to go for it on 4th and goal from the Bills 8 and Brady's pass was broken up in the endzone.
Sam "Refrigerator" Adams
The Bills should find a spot for Sam Adams in the offense. Maybe he could be the next "Refrigerator" Perry. Adams made the play of the game when he stood in front of a Brady pass and picked it off like sure-handed cornerback. Then the rambled down the field like a tank, going 37 yards for the third Bills touchdown. That broke the back of the Pats and they couldn't get back into the game after that.
The biggest effort of all the newcomers on defense for the Bills had to be Takeo Spikes. Spike was all over the field, making two interceptions and six tackles. He spearheaded the revamped Bills D and may prove to be the biggest acquisition the Bills made in the offseason.
Pats hit stone wall
The Patriots could do nothing in the first half against the Bills attacking defense. In the first half, the Pats were mustered a measly 51 yards. They had six first downs, but two were the result of Bills penalties. Im the second half, the Pats were able to generate a little more as they had the ball much longer, but the Bills defense came through and kept the shutout in tact. In fact, the Pats had a chance to score at the end of the game as they got a first and goal on an interference to Coy Wire. However, the Pats couldn't even crack into the endzone from one yard out and the Bills had their biggest opening day victory since a 1992 opening day slaughter of the LA Rams, 40-7.
The Bills played a solid two way game as both the offense and defense came with their best stuff on a balmy 77 degree opening day.
"Offensively, we handled the ball and controlled the clock," said Moulds. "We came in and played well but we still have to play those guys again. They have a great defensive coach and Belichick comes up with great schemes, we just have to play smart. That is what we haven't been doing in the past."
Milloy was obviously the center of attention at the press conference.
"It feels good," acknowledged Milloy. "But it feels good in a positive way, not in a personal vendetta way. I could be sitting up here and throwing out names and sticking it to them, but they know."
With Lawyer playing on the opposite side of the ball, the Pats only had Ty Law to prevent complete lawlessness. Law acknowledged the huge distraction the Milloy situation caused this week.
"It was an obvious distraction," admitted Law about all the controversy involving the cutting of Milloy. "But no excuses. We didn't play well. Even if Lawyer Milloy was here, we wouldn't have done enough to win."
The quote of the day had to be from Pat Williams. Williams encouraged Bledsoe before the big game against his former team. "I said don't worry about no Patriots today, we've got your back," Williams said.
Copyright © 2003 Bills Thunder & Rick Anderson, all rights reserved.
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