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BOSTON (CBS) – The Buffalo Bills had not beaten the Patriots in eight years, but got the job done on Sunday.
It probably helped that the Patriots made several errors along the way.
“We didn’t play very good complimentary football with each other,” said Patriots receiver Wes Welker, who caught 16 passes for 217 yards in the 34-31 loss. “The Bills came out there and played hard, they kept fighting. They were definitely a tougher team than us.”
“It’s a tough one. But we make no excuses; they did a heck of a job,” said corner Kyle Arrington, who had two interceptions in the first half. “They were the better team that deserved to win.”
The Patriots were anything but complimentary on Sunday. The team started off fast and took a 21-10 lead into the locker room at halftime. But in the second half, the game was filled with missed routes, bad throws and dropped passes.
Tom Brady also tied a career high with four interceptions. When the other team is catching that many passes from Brady, it would be hard for any team to win that game.
“(When you) turn the ball over four times, you don’t win many games that way,” said coach Bill Belichick.
And that was just on offense. On the defensive side of things, there were too many big plays given up and too many penalties to overcome. When the Patriots needed to slow down the Bills offensive strike, they were gassed and unable to come up with a stop.
With eight penalties for 83 yards, it was an uphill battle New England could not climb.
“That hurts us,” corner Devin McCourty said of the penalties. “We kind of pride ourselves for not being a penalized football team and we can’t allow penalties because it hurts drives. Defensively it keeps those guys on the field.”
Three penalties stick out the most for the Patriots. While holding on to a 24-17 lead at the start of the fourth quarter, New England was flagged for two key penalties that allowed Buffalo to tie the game. Kyle Love was called for roughing the passer on Ryan Fitzpatrick in his own endzone, giving Buffalo the ball at the 20. Fitzpatrick answered with a 48-yard hookup with Donald Jones, setting the Bills up at the New England 32. On the next play, Fitzpatrick was picked off by Josh Barrett in the endzone. But instead of a rally killing interception, a defensive pass interference call gave Buffalo the ball back. Fred Jackson took it in from a yard out on the next play to tie the game at 24.
Vince Wilfork was also flagged with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Bills final drive, giving the Bills a new set of downs instead of a third-and-goal.
While they will not dwell on their mistakes in Buffalo, the Patriots are certainly hoping to learn from them.
“Just go back to practice. Back to the drawing board, back to the film; make the corrections,” said linebacker Jerod Mayo. “I still think we have a good team, I still think we have a good defense. Buffalo came out and made more plays than we did.”
View: Patriots 2011 Team Stats
“I don’t think we played our worst game,” said Arrington. “We didn’t play as well as we’re capable of either. We had our moments. We just have to put together a complete, 60-minute complimentary football game; that’s what we’re working on.”
“I think the main thing mentally is getting back to work,” said McCourty, who has struggled over the first three games after a remarkable rookie season in 2010. “We don’t have time to be frustrated, be disappointed with the first three games of the season. We have to keep playing, keep going at it because it’s a long season. If we stick on the first three games and don’t get better we’ll really be in trouble.”
The Patriots defense was without safety Patrick Chung and rookie corner Ras-I Dowling in the secondary, and defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth was also out for the game. The pass-rush was nearly non-existent for the Pats, as they did not record a single sack all afternoon.
Sports Final: Andre Carter On Pats Loss
“It was unfortunate,” Andre Carter said of New England’s lack of pressure on Fitzpartrick on WBZ-TV’s Sports Final Sunday night. “Pass-rush and coverage just comes hand in hand. We need just have to be in sync and once we’re in sync, the sky is the limit.”
“It’s definitely disappointing from a defensive standpoint because we have a great group of guys that take pride and take enjoyment in being so strong,” said Carter of the loss.
The Patriots travel out west next Sunday to take on the Oakland Raiders.