Week 3: Bills Lose Mistake Filled Game
Penalties and turnovers too much for big plays to overcome.
by Steve Saslow
The Bills worked two weeks on getting ready for this game and while they did show up and give the champs all they could handle, a tremendous amount of mistakes inevitably did them in once again. Coach Mularkey knew the team needed to play a near perfect game to beat the Patriots and he knew they had to stop making the same mistakes they did the first two weeks. Unfortunately that did not happen, an inopportune penalties and a huge turnover with the game on the line killed the Bills in their 31-17 loss to the Patriots.
The Bills were in this game with three minutes to go facing a 4th and 3 at the Patriots 17 and decided to go for it with the Patriots leading 24-17. This came after Travis Henry fell down again on 3rd and 1 with a huge hole in front of him. That was one of a tremendous amount of miscues and mistakes in this game but the biggest one in the game was about to come. Drew Bledsoe was sacked by johnny on the spot Tedy Bruschi and Richard Seymour returned it 68 yards for the game clinching score.
As usual when the Bills play the Patriots they didn't get the breaks either. Some questionable officiating went against the Bills. Corey Dillon clearly fumbled the ball early in the fourth quarter and Nate Clements clearly recovered but he was ruled down. The Bills couldn't review it because the whistle had blown. Of course, that play wouldn't have happened if Rashad Baker wasn't called for offsides on a field goal attempt of all things! The Patriots took the points off the board and used the lucky call, on the apparent fumble, to take the lead on a two yard touchdown pass to Daniel Graham that gave the Patriots the eventual winning touchdown that made the score 24-17.
In this wild game the Bills recovered a fumble and returned inside the 5 only to have London Fletcher fumble it through the end zone. Fortunately for the Bills they won the challenge that made it an incomplete pass and forced a punt. If he didn't fumble it the Patriots would not have been able to challenge it because they were out of challenges. This play epitomized a game that was filled of many mistakes by a team that couldn't afford it as well as some big plays by both teams.
The First half was real wild as it ended tied at 17. The first drive of the game was a sign of things to come. As the Bills were called for two penalties before three were called on the Patriots. The officials were such a part of this game including an injury to the referee who had to leave the game. The Patriots drove for a touchdown on the opening series after completing a 1st and 35 pass for 44 yards and a first down as Tom Brady dissecting the Bills secondary for big play after big play especially on third downs where Brady was particularly impressive. They would take a 7-0 lead on the opening drive.
Bledsoe responded quickly with a 55 yard bomb on the first play for the offense to Lee Evans. Of course a penalty on Lawrence Smith helped derail the drive and the Bills had to settle for a 33 yard Rian Lindell field goal to make it 7-3.
After a Patriot field goal the Bills made their second big play of the game as Terrence McGee returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 10. The Bills would take the lead On a 41 yard touchdown pass to Eric Moulds. This came after another series of whacky plays that this game was filled of. Brian Moorman fumbled a snap like he did once last year. Like last year when he did that he rumbled for the first down as he gained 34 yards right before the touchdown pass. Earlier in the second quarter Bledsoe threw his only interception in the game. A big bomb by Brady setup a potential score but Chris Kelsay recovered a Corey Dillon fumble at the 2.
That's what this game was about a bunch of big plays, big penalties, and costly turnovers. The Bills knew they needed to play a perfect game to win, they played far from it but were still in the game with three minutes to go. Then the wheels came off like it usually does for this team late in the game. The Bills were close for the third week in a row and with some breaks and some less mistakes they could be 3-0. The bottom line is despite better play by the offense they had the same result and the season is quickly slipping away and may be over with a loss in the Meadowlands against the Jets next week.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills loss to the World Champions: