The season mercifully came to an end in New England for the Bills. It was ironic and fitting that they lost by the same 31-0 score that they beat the Patriots on opening day. It showed how far the Bills have fallen and how high the Patriots have soared since that glorious opener that was one of the lone bright spots in a very disappointing season by the Bills.
The Patriots had a lot to play for, home field throughout the playoffs and revenge for the opening day loss. The Bills had nothing to play for and showed it. They quit last week against Miami, so there was no reason to believe they would show up today. Mentally, they were beaten before they boarded the plane, the only credit I can give them is that 52 of 53 players did board the plane. That is more than I can say for Ruben Brown who apparently quit on the team this week. He missed the game for what is being dubbed as "personal reasons". He definitely had some sort of falling out with the coaching staff.
Without Brown, and injured starters Jonas Jennings and Mike Williams left the Bills with just Trey Teague playing in his normal position on the offensive line. The Patriots teed off and gave Drew Bledsoe no time to throw. The Bills beleaguered QB looked gun shy from the opening whistle. He threw too quickly on many plays and was rarely accurate when he did have time. Many times players came in untouched and Bledsoe didn't have a prayer. He finished the most disappointing season of his career with under 100 yards passing another interception and of course, what would a Bills game be without a Bledsoe fumble.
The defense wasn't much better on this day as they seemed to finally break their spirit, the lack of offense all year and the lost cause of this game caused them not to show up either. The Pats took the opening kickoff, went no huddle and went right down the field to a touchdown. 9 plays, 62 yards in just over 4 minutes to a touchdown pass and what would be an insurmountable 7-0 lead. The Bills responded by Bledsoe's poorly thrown interception that he just threw up for grabs. The Pats turned that into another touchdown and a 14-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game.
They would double that lead before halftime as Brady would throw two second quarter touchdown passes to go along with his two first quarter touchdown passes to give them a 28-0 halftime lead.
The Bills had their chances, a Jeff Posey forced fumble and a Takeo Spikes recovery set the Bills up, but the offense could not respond. Bledsoe through incomplete on fourth down after Rian Lindell had a missed field goal called back by a delay of game. Lindell would then go on to miss a field goal late in the first half that would have got the Bills on the scoreboard.
The second half had the Bills inside the Pats 10 twice but they came away empty handed both times allowing the final score to be the fitting 31-0 result that the Pats seemed to covet. They turned Bledsoe's fumble into a field goal as they appeared to want the field goal rather than the touchdown in that spot.
Travis Henry was the one player to play hard as he ran for 62 yards on 15 carries but his fumblitis seems to have returned. He turned the ball over at the Pats 9 in the fourth quarter. The Bills also almost scored in the final seconds but a Travis Brown interception in the end zone sealed the final score.
That ill fated final offensive play was also filled with the irony that surrounded the result of this game. Kevin Gilbride will be fired this week because of his refusal to go with the power running game, instead he went with a pass happy attack all year. With :17 left and the Bills looking to end the shutout, they were inside the one yard line. Of course, instead of running once to try and score and then using a timeout if you don't get in, he threw and was picked off. A perfect end to a career for a stubborn offensive coordinator that was a complete failure this year.
How complete was the failure? Well, Brown had some good drives in garbage time that allowed the Bills to get 256 total yards offensively. That narrowly allowed them to escape the distinction of being the most futile offense in club history for a 16 game season. The zero points scored was the fifth road game this year that they failed to score a touchdown. It also allowed them to finish the season with the second fewest amount of points they have ever had in a 16 game season. This is all after they scored 69 points in the first two games!
The downhill spiral got out of control and it will no doubt cost the coaching staff all their jobs, with the possible exception of one or two defensive coaches. The team fell apart down the stretch and that was disheartening since everyone said they always played hard for Gregg. Well, now they didn't, they quit on him, quit on themselves, quit on the fans. At least they showed up, well... most of them anyway. Aren't you all looking forward to seeing Brown in the Pro Bowl?
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats it is pretty straight forward as we safely lump everyone together: