There’s a lot on the line as Brady and Co. take the field in Buffalo, so follow the game right here in the live blog. Check back throughout the afternoon for all the updates.
Final, 52-28 Patriots: That’s all she wrote from Buffalo. The Patriots come back from a 21-7 deficit in the third quarter and win by a dominating 52-28 score.
Fourth quarter, 1:56, 52-28 Patriots: Stephen Gostkowski kicks a 30-yard field goal, giving him at least one positive to take going into next week.
Fourth quarter, 3:54, 49-28 Patriots: Ryan Fitzpatrick just threw a ball to Tavon Wilson. Bad news for Fitzpatrick: Tavon Wilson plays on the other team.
Tom Brady’s back on the field with 3:54 to play. We assume he’ll be handing the ball off, but, we’ll see.
Fourth quarter, 4:02, 49-28 Patriots: Brandon Lloyd and Tom Brady have been out of rhythm all day. Until now.
Brady lofted a beautiful deep ball to Lloyd from the 25-yard line to the front corner of the end zone, and Lloyd made a great diving catch.
That drive was aided by another great catch from Welker, too. Once this one’s final, you’re going to be blown away by the statistics. Welker has 129 yards, Bolden has 137 rushing yards and Brady’s thrown for 332, three touchdowns and no picks.
Fourth quarter, 6:25, 42-28 Patriots: The Pats recovered the onside kick.
Fourth quarter, 6:32, 42-28 Patriots: This one seems over, but there is a bit of time left, and the Bills just cut the lead to two touchdowns.
The Pats’ defense wasn’t playing particularly tight on that drive, with a three-touchdown lead in the fourth, but they let Brad Smith slip open for a much-too-easy 35-yard touchdown strike.
With the Patriots getting the ball back, they’ll need to just stick with the ground game that’s been working so well in order to ice this one. A three-and-out, though, and this one could get interesting.
Fourth quarter, 10:29, 42-21 Patriots: Very quickly, we found ourselves in blowout city.
Brandon Bolden puts the cherry on top of his incredible day with a bulldozing touchdown run right over Stephon Gilmore. Bolden now has 132 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Fourth quarter, 11:19, 35-21 Patriots: This one is just about over, after Devin McCourty cuts in front of Stevie Johnson for his second interception of the game. McCourty returned it all the way back to the 15-yard line.
That drive was highlighted by a monster hit by Vince Wilfork on Donald Jones on a middle screen. To say it was thunderous would be an understatement.
Fourth quarter, 11:42, 35-21: The Patriots capitalize on the turnover, and Stevan Ridley punches it in from 2 yards out. What a turnaround here in the second half for the Patriots. Both Bolden and Ridley are now over 100 yards rushing.
Fourth quarter, 13:26, 28-21 Patriots: Wow.
Brandon Spikes delivered a huge hit on Fred Jackson, knocking the ball right out of the running back’s hands and onto the ground. The Patriots pounced on the loose ball and take over at the Buffalo 42.
Fourth quarter, 14:55, 28-21 Patriots: Rob Gronkowski is very big, and he catches a lot of touchdowns. The Bills, apparently, weren’t tuned into that, as they let big No. 87 run free down the middle of the field and catch the easiest touchdown he’ll ever score in the NFL.
And just like that, the Patriots score their 21st unanswered point, and lead 28-21.
End of third quarter, 21-21: The Pats are driving, picking up 34 yards on five plays prior to the quarter ending.
Here are Levan Reid’s highs and lows from the third quarter:
Tough runs by Brandon Bolden highlighted the Patriots’ first scoring drive of the quarter. Then Tom Brady used his footwork in the pocket to get the ball to Danny Woodhead for a 17-yard touchdown reception.
The Pats’ defense scored on consecutive drives, thanks to the defense forcing a much-needed three-and-out.
Rob Ninkovich came through with two big plays, including a sack, getting the ball back to the Patriots.
Pats get the ball to start the quarter and they turned the ball over on downs. A possible touchdown to Gronkowski was knocked away by Stephon Gilmore.
The Pats were unable to stop the Bills on a third-and-15. The Bills ran a screen and got 16 yards, which led to a 68-yard scoring strike from Fitzpatrick to Donald Jones.
Third quarter, 1:56, 21-21: The Patriots’ defense comes up with another stop, thanks to a strip sack by Rob Ninkovich. Fitzpatrick fell on that one, but the third down pass fell incomplete. The Pats take over at their own 37 looking to take a lead for the first time since it was 7-0.
Third quarter, 3:53, 21-21: It’s all tied up now.
Initially, it appeared as though Brady scrambled and ran for a 5-yard touchdown, but replay showed his knee might have been down with the ball about 1 foot from the goal line. John Parry did not overturn the play, though, and the touchdown stood.
This one’s all tied up with a little less than 19 minutes left.
Third quarter, 7:12, 21-14 Bills: The Patriots’ defense comes up big with a three-and-out, giving the ball back to the offense after a break of less than 60 seconds on the game clock.
They’ll have a long way to go, though, after Shawn Powell’s huge punt and Tavon Wilson’s hold on the play. The Pats will work from their own 15-yard line.
Third quarter, 8:10, 21-14 Bills: The Patriots did their best impression of their own opening drive, moving the ball 80 yards down the field and finishing with a touchdown. On this one, Brady avoided a rush and scrambled to his right, hitting Danny Woodhead cutting over the middle. Woodhead slipped through a couple of defenders to cut the Bills’ lead in half.
Brandon Bolden accounted for 51 yards on the first three plays of that drive. Gronkowski also dropped another pass that could have been a touchdown. That’s two bad mistakes for Gronkowski.
Third quarter, 11:08, 21-7: Well, it’s officially ugly for the Patriots. Donald Jones catches a short pass over the middle but outruns everybody, breaking it all the way for a 68-yard touchdown.
There’s not much to say about it other than it was the latest example of the Bills simply stepping up and making a play. The Patriots haven’t been able to do that (on offense) since the opening drive.
Third quarter, 13:45, 14-7 Bills: It should be a tied game right now, but Rob Gronkowski was unable to hang on to a pass he had in his hands after taking a hit by Stephon Gilmore.
Gilmore actually seemed to kind of whiff on his hit, but his body knocked the ball out of Gronkowski’s hands, which were below his own waist. It was a beautiful deep ball by Brady but Gronk just wasn’t able to hang on.
Mesko’s punt didn’t get inside the 10 this time, and the Bills take over at their own 15.
WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid checks in with his highs and lows from the second quarter:
Zoltan Mesko’s punt is downed inside the 5, thanks to Marquice Cole. Devin McCourty then made a pick to get the ball back for the Pats.
Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller fumbled the ball on the goal line and Vince Wilfork recovered it. Vince also forced the fumble but it looked like Spikes helped with a huge hit at the goal line.
Dont’a Hightower is on the side line riding the bike and walking after hurting his hamstring. Right now his return is being listed as questionable.
The Patriots had just a bad set of downs after the McCourty interception. Tom Brady missed everybody and Stephen Gostkowski missed a 49-yard field goal. The Pats have been trying this back shoulder play between Brandon Lloyd and Brady and it hasn’t worked. They may have to scrap it.
Brady’s pass to Rob Gronkowski is fumbled by Gronk and the Bills capitalized. Ryan Fitzpatrick to Scott Chandler for 24 yards to tie the game.
Stephen Gostkowski had a 42-yard field goal try and he missed that, too. On the ensuing drive, the Bills hit on a 34-yard passing play, which gets them the ball inside the 30. Then Ryan Fitzpatrick hooks up with Scott Chandler for their second scoring strike of the day and the Bills take the lead.
The bad stuff kept coming, with Tom Brady getting sacked to put the Pats at a 3rd-and-17. On the third down play, he hit Wes Welker but Welker fumbled the ball and the Bills recover.
Halftime, 14-7 Bills: After two positive runs from Ridley, the Pats let the clock run out and head to halftime, almost happy that they’re only trailing by a touchdown.
It was hard to see exactly what happened on that Spiller fumble, but it was Brandon Spikes who laid a massive hit on the ball carrier at the 1-yard line. In a big old pile of bodies, big Vince Wilfork wrestled the ball out of the mess and crawled away with the football.
If the Patriots end up winning, that play will be why.
Second quarter, 1:11, 14-7 Bills: C.J. Spiller, playing with a bum shoulder, fumbled at the goal line, and Vince Wilfork recovers. What a crazy turn of events at the goal line.
Second quarter, 2:15, 14-7 Bills: Another Patriots fumble, this one from Wes Welker. Can you believe it?
Brady connected with Welker over the middle for a gain of 13 on third-and-17 after a sack on second down. As Welker fought for more yards, Jairus Byrd again forced a fumble, and the Bills recovered deep in Patriots territory.
Second quarter, 3:30, 14-7 Bills: The NFL is all about making plays, and the Bills are simply doing better than the Patriots in that regard. Fred Jackson made an incredible catch along the sideline with Jerod Mayo in tight (and I mean tight) coverage, for a gain of 34. Two plays later, Scott Chandler held onto a pass at the goal line after getting absolutely popped by Chung.
Second quarter, 5:42, 7-7: He missed another one!
Gostkowski misses another field goal, this one wide left, and the game remains tied.
Second quarter, 5:46, 7-7: The Patriots are driving but face a fourth-and-1 on the Bills’ 24. The Pats lined up to go for it, but Brady called timeout at the line. The field goal unit is heading out there now.
Second quarter, 9:43, 7-7: What a crazy turn of events. Rob Gronkowski had a 20-yard catch and run, but Jairus Byrd, forced a fumble from Gronkowski. On the very next play, from the Patriots’ 24, Fitzpatrick lobbed a perfect pass to Scott Chandler, just over the outstretched arm of Patrick Chung in the end zone.
Jones came down with it, and this one’s tied.
Second quarter, 10:00, 7-0 Patriots: Another punt forced by the Pats’ defense, this one aided by a great play by McCourty to stuff a Jackson run behind the line of scrimmage. The Pats will take over just inside their 10-yard line after a fair catch by Welker.
Second quarter, 11:16, 7-0 Patriots: Stephen Gostkowski’s 49-yarder sailed wide right, and the lead remains 7-0.
In injury news, Hightower’s injury is a hamstring issue, and his return is questionable. He felt the tweak after sprinting to chase down Fitzpatrick early in the game.
Second quarter, 12:56, 7-0 Patriots: Devin McCourty worked on his catching this week, it seems, as he hauls in an underthrown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick for the Pats’ second interception of the day.
Second quarter, 13:41, 7-0 Patriots: The Patriots’ special teamers are on their game today. Mesko’s punt bounced toward the end zone, but Marquice Cole dived to tip it back toward the field, and Matthew Slater collected the ball on the 2-yard line, while managing to keep himself out of the end zone. The Bills will have a long way to go when they take over.
WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid checks in with his highs and lows from the first quarter:
On a third-and-2 on the Bills’ opening drive, Chandler Jones madde a huge stop of Fred Jackson in the backfield and that forced a punt.
On the Pats’ first drive of the quarter, they quickly got on the board, highlighted by a big 41-yard passing play to Rob Gronkowski.
On a third down play, Vince Wilfork tipped a Ryan Fitpatrick pass and Jerod Mayo came down with the interception to force the game’s first turnover. Chandler Jones later had a sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick on third down to end a drive.
The Bills got the ball first and their first two plays were converted for first downs. The Pats defense talks about starting fast but today was a slow start.
Tom Brady and the offense get the ball in good position after the Mayo interception but they did nothing with it on their second possession.
End of first quarter, 7-0 Patriots: The quarter ends with a solid 12-yard run off the left end by Brandon Bolden.
First quarter, :42, 7-0 Patriots: Tavon Wilson comes through with a big tackle of Fred Jackson on second down, and Chandler Jones picks up a sack on the following play, forcing a punt. How about them rookies?
First quarter, 3:18, 7-0 Patriots: The Pats are unable to capitalize on the interception in the form of points, as they went three-and-out, but they were able to pin the Bills deep on their own 5-yard line. Zoltan Mesko’s punt hung in the air long enough for Matthew Slater to camp under it at the 5.
First quarter, 4:06, 7-0 Patriots: The Patriots’ hot start continues, with Vince Wilfork tipping a third-down pass from Fitzpatrick at the line and Jerod Mayo making a diving interception over the middle. The Patriots will be set up around midfield looking to add to their lead.
On the play before the interception, Dont’a Hightower chased down Fitzpatrick from behind for a sack. It was a great play, but Hightower headed to the sidelines afterward in some pain. That’s a situation worth monitoring.
First quarter, 6:49, 7-0 Patriots: Well, that looked awfully easy.
The Patriots marched 90 yards down the field on just seven plays to score the game’s first touchdown. The drive was highlighted by a 41-yard bomb from Brady to Gronkowksi, with the quarterback stepping up to avoid the rush and the tight end making an athletic over-the-shoulder catch.
Stevan Ridley had two positive rushes, the second being a 6-yard scamper into the end zone.
That drive also saw the first catches of the season for Daniel Fells (17 yards) and Shane Vereen (6 yards).
First quarter, 9:56: Chandler Jones comes through with the first big play of the game, penetrating the line and wrapping up Fred Jackson behind the line of scrimmage on a third-and-2 from the Patriots’ 38-yard line. It was a much-needed play, as the Bills were moving the ball with relative ease to that point (40 yards on first seven plays).
Wes Welker fair caught the Bills’ punt at the 10, and Tom Brady and Co. are heading to work.
First quarter, 15:00: Here’s a good first sign for Patriots fans: The Pats won the toss and deferred. That’s how the Patriots like to begin things. Stephen Gostkowski’s kick sailed out of the back of the end zone, and this one’s under way.
12:55 p.m.: Quick pregame poll: With Mankins out of this game, are you worried about the Patriots today?
12:27 p.m.: Take a deep breath, Patriots fans. Donald Thomas will start in place of Logan Mankins.
You knew it was coming with Mankins out, but seeing it confirmed can be a bit jarring. To say this will be a big test for Thomas would be the understatement of the day.
12:15 p.m.: With Julian Edelman out with that mysterious hand injury, the Patriots need a punt returner. The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe just tweeted that from pregame warmups, that role will apparently be filled by Wes Welker.
Welker obviously has a ton of experience returning punts, and he’s Bill Belichick’s most sure-handed option. Howe said it looks like safety Patrick Chung “might be” Welker’s backup.
11:40 a.m.: The Patriots just released their inactives, and there are no surprises on it. Fortunately for the Patriots, Rob Gronkowski is active.
Mankins, Edelman, Hernandez, newly signed Matt Tenant, Alfonzo Dennard, Justin Francis and Brandon Deaderick are all out.
That means Shane Vereen and Jake Bequette are active and should see their first action of the year.
For the Bills, C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are both active. It will be interesting to see how well each can perform through injury.
10:30 a.m.: In case you missed it on Saturday night, Logan Mankins did not make the trip with the team to Buffalo. With a defensive front as large and imposing as Buffalo’s that’s a tremendous loss for the Patriots, and it will play a major role in how this one goes.
Brandon Deaderick, Alfonzo Dennard and Justin Francis were also downgraded to “out,” so they won’t be involved this afternoon.
It will be interesting (and crucial) to see how Rob Gronkowski looks during warmups, as he was a surprise addition to the injury report on Friday and was listed as questionable with a hip problem.
On the other side, C.J. Spiller is a game-time decision. Even if he’s good enough to go, though, you have to figure Fred Jackson will carry the bulk of the load this afternoon.
We’ll provide updates here as they come.