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Patriots-Bills Live Blog: McCourty Interception In End Zone Seals Win For Patriots

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
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Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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Final: 37-31 Patriots: Ryan Fitzpatrick was so good today, but in the final moment of the game, he made his biggest mistake of the day.

Fitzpatrick threw an interception to Devin McCourty in the end zone, giving the Patriots the ball and the chance to kneel down and end the game.

It wasn’t pretty — in fact it was downright ugly — but it goes down as a “W” for New England, which is most important.

Fourth quarter, :59, 37-31 Patriots: The Bills are driving but Fred Jackson nearly fumbled the game away. Somehow, a Buffalo Bill came out of a pile with the football to save the Bills from osing this game. The Bills will have a third down at the Patriots’ 37-yard line with no timeouts left.

Fourth quarter, 1:56, 37-31 Patriots: When this game picks back up after the two-minute warning, the Bills will have a third-and-8.

Fourth quarter, 2:06, 37-31 Patriots: Brady and the offense drove 59 yards and chewed up 5:41 off the clock, but they had to settle for a field goal. The Patriots’ defense is going to have to come up with a stop or a turnover in order to secure this victory, and with the way they’ve looked thus far today, that doesn’t sound like a promising outlook.

Fourth quarter, 7:47, 34-31 Patriots: The Patriots’ defense comes up short yet again. This drive was aided by a personal foul on Jerod Mayo for needlessly hitting Spiller out of bounds, and it’s capped off with a short pass to a wide open Donald Jones over the middle to cut the Patriots’ lead to just a field goal.

That’s the bad news for the Patriots. The good news is that Buffalo’s defense has been just as bad as New England’s. We’ll see if Brady can lead the Patriots on a long scoring drive to ice this one. Anything short of that, and the Bills will need a field goal to tie and a touchdown to take a late lead. Strap in.

Fourth quarter, 9:09, 34-24 Patriots: The Patriots got zero yards on that drive and had to punt. Now the Bills take over around midfield and pick up a big gain by Spiller with a personal foul on Mayo for hitting him out of bounds tacked on. This doesn’t look promising for New England.

Fourth quarter, 9:35, 34-24 Patriots: The call was reversed, and the Patriots take over at their 1.

Fourth quarter, 9:35, 34-24 Patriots: This may be the big turnover the Patriots needed.

Fred Jackson was scrambling for more yards and got all the way to the goal line, but the ball squirted out just as he was falling to the turf.

The ruling on the field was that Jackson was down, but replay showed he wasn’t. Belichick challenged and we’re awaiting word from Bill Leavy.

Fourth quarter, 14:10, 34-24 Patriots: An impressive catch by Brandon Lloyd on third down was not enough to pick up a first down, and Bill Belichick decided to send out the field-goal unit for a 48-yard attempt. It worked, as Gostkowski boomed the kick through the uprights to give the Patriots a 10-point lead.

Now is the time for the defense to step up and make a play. Letting the Bills stick around this long will prove costly if they don’t.

WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid checks in with his highs and lows from the third quarter:

The Highs:

The Pats’ defense forced Buffalo to go three-and-out on the opening drive of the quarter.

The Pats scored a touchdown on a four-play drive, with Danny Woodhead finding the end zone on an 18-yard passing play. Woodhead is having a great game, as this is the first multiple touchdown game of his career.

The Lows:

The Patriots’ opening drive ended with a seven-yard sack on Tom Brady. That’s not the way the Pats wanted to start the second half. Brady was tearing into Julian Edelman for running the wrong route on the third down play.

On the Bills’ second possession of the quarter, the Pats’ defense struggled to stop them again. Three consecutive first downs helped the Bills get the ball down the field. Buffalo had a fourh-and-4 and converted it. That ledto a one-yard touchdown run by Fred Jackson. This was an 11-play drive that covered 84 yards.

End of third quarter, 31-24 Patriots: The offense is driving, thanks to a big 24-yard gain by Ridley. When the fourth quarter begins, the Pats will have a second-and-8 from the Bills’ 36-yard line.

Third quarter, 1:37, 31-24 Patriots: The Patriots’ defense continues to look terrible against Ryan Fitzpatrick, and they Bills drive 84 yards on 11 plays to once again cut the lead to a touchdown.

The key play on that drive was a fourth-and-4 from the New England 27, which the Bills went for and converted easily with a pass to Stevie Johnson.

With the way the Pats’ defense is playing, the offense essentially has to play perfect in order to keep this lead. That’s not an easy way to survive in this league.

Third quarter, 5:20, 31-17 Patriots: Mankins suffered an ankle injury and his return is questionable. He did not play on the Patriots’ most recent offensive drive.

Third quarter, 7:06, 31-17 Patriots: Danny Woodhead came into this game with two touchdowns on the season, but he’s now matched that total in today’s game alone.

Brady somehow escaped heavy pressure on third-and-2 from the Buffalo 18-yard line, and he got the ball to Danny Woodhead. The running back did the rest, juking Jairus Byrd and diving to the end zone.

The play was reviewed but stood, and the Patriots get a much-needed boost to that lead.

Third quarter, 8:00, 24-17 Patriots: Nick McDonald is in for Mankins.

Third quarter, 8:44, 24-17 Patriots: The New England defense comes up big, with Jermaine Cunningham sacking Fitzpatrick for a big loss. That play, followed by a delay of game, set up a long third down, which the Bills couldn’t convert.

The Bills had to punt, and Ron Brooks was called for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play, giving the Patriots even more free yards. Brady and the offense are going to have to punch one in to stretch out this lead.

Third quarter, 10:53, 24-17 Patriots: New England, we have a problem.

A third-down sack of Brady forced the Patriots out of field-goal range, bringing on Zoltan Mesko for his first punt of the afternoon. That’s not the worst news though, as Logan Mankins hobbled off the field after the sack. Mankins was listed as questionable for this game with calf/hip injuries, and he appeared to be working through some lower body pain.

I’ll keep an eye on any updates with regard to his status, but for now, the Bills will take over inside their 20 with a chance to tie the game.

Third quarter, 15:00, 24-17 Patriots: The second half is under way.

WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid checks in with his highs and lows from the second quarter:\

The Highs:

Rob Ninkovich had a sack on a third, which forced Buffalo to settle for a field goal.

On the first possession of the quarter for the Pats, they find the end zone thanks to passes to Wes Welker for 19 and then Rob Gronkowski for 24. Danny Woodhead did the rest with a 15-yard run for a touchdown. Woodhead had 37 all purpose yards on that drive.

New England took advantage of a questionable pass interfenrece call, as Tom Brady hit Gronkowski for two yards and the Pats added seven more.

The Lows:

A costly fasemask penalty by Vince Wilfork put Buffalo in the red zone. The defense held after that play, limiting Buffalo to just a field goal.

On the Bills’ second possession of the quarter, they just beat up the Patriots. They picked up four straight first downs and then got a touchdown run by Fred Jackson for 14 yards. The Pats struggled a ton on this series. Buffalo started at their 20 and six plays later, they were in the end zone.

Buffalo later scored again on an 11-play drive that ended with a touchdown to Scott Chandler. If you remember Scott Chandler smoked the Pats for two touchdowns when they played each other in Buffalo.

Halftime, 24-17 Patriots: The Pats are up by a touchdown, but they lost all momentum and the home crowd has essentially gone silent.

Despite the benefit of a few beneficial calls, and despite the offense scoring on all four of their full drives (excluding the two-play drive before the half), they lead by just a touchdown. They’re going to need to tighten up on defense and force another turnover or two in order to put this one out of reach. Otherwise, Buffalo looks poised to stick right with them all day.

Second quarter, :31,  24-17 Patriots: For as dominant as the Patriots’ offense has been, the defense has been pretty terrible. They just allowed the Bills to drive 80 yards on 11 plays, aided by a boneheaded personal foul on Alfonzo Dennard for hitting Fitzpatrick out of bounds.

This score was set up with an easy 18-yard connection with Donald Jones that got the ball inside the Patriots’ 5, and it was capped off with a short pass to an uncovered Scott Chandler in the end zone.

Somehow, this is just a seven-point game.

Second quarter, 3:54, 24-10 Patriots: If the Bills are upset with the officials after that drive, they have good reason.

For one, Jairyus Byrd was called for pass interference on a third down when it should have been called defensive holding. That gave New England an extra 12 yards. Then, on the pass interference penalty called on Gilmore, the pass was without a doubt uncatchable for Brandon Lloyd. Gilmore definitely tackled Lloyd, but the pass landed about 10 yards beyond the back line of the end zone.

Second quarter, 3:54, 24-10 Patriots: In less than a half of football, the Bills have been penalized 10 times for 119 yards. It killed them on this Patriots drive, with two pass interference penalties and a facemask penalty essentially doing all the work for Tom Brady’s offense.

Rob Gronkowski did pull off an incredible diving catch in the back corner of the end zone to cap off the drive.

Second quarter, 6:03, 17-10 Bills: Buffalo is indeed able to find the end zone, thanks to tremendous effort from Fred Jackson.

On a first-and-10 from the 14, Jackson took a handoff behind the right tackle, cut back left and charged his way through several Patriots before breaking free and into the end zone. Dont’a Hightower appeared to have Jackson all but wrapped up but let him slip away. The Patriots’ offense will have to continue its excellence.

Second quarter, 6:46, 17-3 Patriots: The Bills are yet again driving, with a 12-yard run by C.J. Spiller and consecutive long passes to Scott Chandler getting the Bills to the Pats’ 26-yard line. Buffalo took a timeout, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Bills can avoid holding and getting pushed farther back from the end zone, which is where they’re going to need to get often if they want to compete in this one. Field goals won’t cut it.

Second quarter, 9:09, 17-3 Patriots: That was just an utterly dominant drive by the Patriots’ offense.

After an incompletion on a playaction pass to Deion Branch on a slant to start the drive, the offense was pretty much perfect. Brady hit a wide-open Welker for a gain of 19 before lofting a beautiful touch pass to Gronkowski for a gain of 24. After a negative run by Shane Vereen, Brady went back to Welker for a gain of seven along the sideline before connecting with Danny Woodhead over the middle for a gain of 15 yards.

On the next play, Brady handed it to Woodhead, he burst through a huge hole on the left side of the line and ran through daylight all the way into the end zone. It’s now 17-3 Pats, and the New England offense looks to be a force.

Second quarter, 12:07, 10-3 Patriots: The Bills get on the board with a Rian Lindell field goal, but the Bills maybe should have had more.

They appeared to convert a third-and-2, but it was called back for holding. It was the seventh penalty on the Bills already, and it forced a third-and-12. Rob Ninkovich picked up a sack, and the Bills were forced to kick the field goal.

WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid checks in with his highs and lows from the first quarter:

The Highs:

Bills got the ball first and the Pats defense and the crowd earned gold stars. Chandler Jones caused some disruption and it caused a holding call and then the fans were loud enough to force two false starts. Buffalo had to punt.

First possession of the quarter for the Patriots and despite some untimely drops, they looked right on. They moved down the field and scored three on their first drive after the bye. Stephen Gostkowski hit a 43-yarder.

On the Bills’ second possession of the quarter, the Pats’ defense came up big. Vince Wilfork had a sack on Ryan Fitzpatrick and that forced a fumble. Jermaine Cunningham came up with the recovery. That led to seven by the Pats. Stevan Ridley with a 1-yard run for a touchdown.

The Lows:

On the Patriots’ First possession of the quarter, they have two drops. Wes Welker dropped what would have been a touchdown and Deion Branch drops what would have been a first down. Both on the same spot on the field. The sun could have been the cause.

The Pats defense had a chance at a stop Buffalo but gave up 15 yards on a third-and-15.

End of first quarter, 10-0 Patriots: The Bills are trailing but they are driving, most recently with a 22-yard pass to Donald Jones that sets the Bills up with a first-and-10 from the Pats’ 36-yard line.

The big play of this drive was a third-and-15 screen pass to Fred Jackson, who powered his way past the Buffalo 30 to keep the drive going.

First quarter, 3:54, 10-0 Patriots: The Bills continue to shoot themselves in the foot, though this one wasn’t entirely their fault.

On second-and-6 from the Buffalo 9, Brady threw to Gronkowski in the end zone. George Wilson was covering Gronk and maybe had his hand on the tight end’s hip. It was hardly any contact at all, but the official threw a flag for pass interference, setting up the Patriots on the goal line.

There, Stephon Gilmore was called for pass interference on a slant to Brandon Lloyd (a good call), and Stevan Ridley punched it in from the 1 to give the Pats a 10-0 lead.

First quarter, 5:24, 3-0 Patriots: The Bills’ offense is off to a terrible start, with Ryan Fitzpatrick holding the ball far too long on this drive. Vince Wilfork broke through the middle of the line and stripped the ball from Fitzpatrick, and Jermaine Cunningham jumped on the loose ball. The Patriots take over in the red zone.

First quarter, 6:04, 3-0 Patriots: Well, the Patriots take an early lead, but they’re pretty lucky to get that field goal. A Tom Brady pass was deflected high in the air early in the drive and it fell right into the hands of Bryan Scott. He inexplicably dropped it, though, and the drive continued.

Drops remained a common theme in the drive. Wes Welker dropped a surefire touchdown as he broke wide open up the right seam. On third-and-5, Brady hit Deion Branch right in the gut, but Branch couldn’t handle the pass and it bounced right into the hands of Leodis McKelvin. Branch alertly jumped on McKelvin and stripped the ball free though, saving the Patriots a field-goal opportunity.

Stephen Gostkowski drilled the 43-yarder, and the Pats lead 3-0.

First quarter, 10:31: The Bills couldn’t get out of their own way on that drive.

Facing a third-and-1, they got whistled for a false start. They then converted that third-and-6, but it got called back for holding. When they lined up for third-and-16, they were whistled for another false start, bringing up a third-and-21. A draw to Fred Jackson couldn’t get all those yards, and the Bills were forced to punt.

Of note on that drive was a stick by Alfonzo Dennard right at the sticks to keep the Bills from moving the chains prior to that sequence of Buffalo mistakes.

First quarter, 15:00: The Pats have won the toss and have deferred to the second half. The Bills will get the ball first.

Stephen Gostkowksi’s kick sailed out of the back of the end zone and the Bills start at their 20.

12:56 p.m.: Ready for kickoff? I sure am. The hours of 11 a.m.-1 p.m. every Sunday are without a doubt the longest two hours of the entire week.

12:24 p.m.: With about a half-hour to go before kickoff, WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid checks in with his thoughts on the inactives list:

“Aaron Hernandez is obviously the big name here. Word is he just came back from his ankle injury early. He practiced all week but he’s still not ready.

The Pats though did activate tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and put him on the 53-man roster. It will be interesting to see what he gets as far as snaps in today’s game.”

11:54 a.m.: Aaron Hernandez is indeed out for this one.

Also notably inactive are Patrick Chung and Ron Brace. The rest of the inactives are Tracy White, Trevor Scott, Malcolm Williams and Jake Bequette.

For the Patriots, Logan Mankins notably will play. He missed their Week 8 game against the Rams.

For the Bills, former Pat Mark Anderson is inactive, as well as Tarvaris Jackson, Mana Silva, Kirk Morrison, Thomas Welch and Chris Kelsay.

10:15 a.m.: A two-week rest apparently wasn’t enough for Aaron Hernandez’s ankle to heal fully, as several reports indicate the tight end will not play Sunday afternoon against the Bills.

Hernandez, who was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report, did not fly with the Patriots to London two weeks ago, and he practiced in a limited capacity this week, only missing Tuesday’s session for the birth of his daughter. Hernandez also missed the Patriots’ early-season meeting with the Bills as he recovered from that ankle injury suffered in Week 2.

To help fill some of the void that Hernandez leaves, the team activated tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, who could make his Patriots debut on Sunday.

Rob Gronkowski was listed as questionable as well on the injury report, though all indications are that he will play.

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