|Stevan Ridley (#22) goes to work against the Bills (CSNNE)|
Here's the thing; at the beginning of the fourth quarter the game was tied, 21-21. Do the math.
And while you're crunching those numbers, take a look at this one. 580. That's how many total yards Bill Belichick's offense accumulated; 333 in the air and 247 on the ground. All those rushing yards are what really impress me, especially since the Pats have built their offense around some guy named Tom Brady (you know, the handsome man who does all those Ugg advertisements). New England's young running-backs Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden both delivered monster performances as they turned this game into a track meet. Ridley piled up 106 rushing yards on 22 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns, while 22 year-old rookie Brandon Bolden totaled 137 yards on 16 carries and scored during New England's fourth quarter rampage.
The game was a tale of two very different halves. Ridley opened the scoring to give the Pats a first quarter lead, but Ryan Fitzpatrick fired a pair of TDs to tight end Scott Chandler during the second quarter while Buffalo's defense kept New England off the board. The Bills padded their lead to 21-7 in the third after Fitzpatrick connected with Donald Jones on a 68-yard bomb, and Pats fans began bracing for the possibility that their team would lose its third consecutive game in a row for the first time since 2002.
Then the Patriots offense, which had been dormant much of the game, went bananas. Bonkers. Absolutely nuts. Brady, who had some trouble locating his helmet at the beginning of the quarter, took care of business himself by slinging a 17-yard TD pass to Danny Woodhead and rushing for the game-tying touchdown. The score was tied at 21, but not for long. Brady initiated the fourth quarter bloodbath by finding Rob Gronkowski to take the lead. Ridley and Bolden rushed for touchdowns to put the game out of reach before Fitzpatrick ended New England's 35-0 run with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Brad Smith. Brady responded by notching his third passing TD of the day with a 25-yarder to Brandon Lloyd. Stephen Gostkowski punctuated the scoring with a 30 yard field goal to seal New England's first 50 point game since October 18th, 2009, when they creamed the Tennessee Titans 59-0. Their 31 fourth quarter points were more than 24 other teams (including the Bills) scored during Week 4. They scored five consecutive touchdowns, six in the second half and seven in all.
The defense was shaky again, allowing 438 total yards to the Bills a week after giving up 503 to the Ravens. Give them credit for forcing six turnovers--four interceptions and two lost fumbles--and recording three sacks, but at the same time realize that this game could have, and probably should have, been a lot closer than the final score indicates. They've allowed way too many passing yards to Fitzpatrick and Joe Flacco, so they have me worried about their Week 5 match-up with Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos. It's disappointing to see them struggle like this because the D looked very good in Weeks 1 and 2 against the Titans and Cardinals. Granted, they're an average defense at best and are going to have their fair share of ups and downs, but it would be nice if they could find some consistency going forward.
Still, after what happened in last week's Sunday night loss to the Ravens, it sure felt good watching the Pats vent some frustration by running up the score against their AFC East foes. Both teams now sit at 2-2, as do the New York Jets following the 34-0 beatdown they suffered at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers. The Bills have now lost 17 of their past 18 meetings with the Patriots.