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Patriots-Bills LIVE Blog: Pats Come Back To Beat Bills 23-21

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(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – Follow all the action from the Patriots’ 2013 season opener in Buffalo:

FINAL — Patriots 23-21: It shouldn’t have been that hard, but a win is a win is a win for the New England Patriots.

The offense looked downright sloppy at times, but Tom Brady led the way for his 38th career game-winning drive in the 4th quarter or overtime and the Pats pulled this one out.

Brady was busy this afternoon, throwing the ball 52 times. It’s no surprise Danny Amendola was his favorite target with 10 catches for 104 yards, with Julian Edelman a close second with seven catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Other than that though, the offense was pretty bad.

The story of the day is really the defense. They kept the Patriots in this as the offense overcame some growing pains, giving them great field position to go on that game-winning drive.

We’ll have plenty more coming from this one throughout the afternoon and evening.

4th Quarter, 0:05 — Patriots 23, Bills 21: The 33-yarder by Stephen Gostkowski is good, and the Patriots are back on top 23-20.

4th Quarter, :58: HUGE run by Shane Vereen on 1st down, picking up 14 yards down to the Buffalo 14.

Doug Marrone is forced to use his second timeout with :56 seconds remaining and the Patriots deep in Buffalo territory.

4th Quarter, 1:08: It probably looks like I’m just copy and pasting everything about Amendola, but he really is Mr. Reliable on third down.

Facing a 3rd and 9, Brady went over the middle again to Amendola for another 10 yards and another first down. The pass was tipped at the line, but Amendola hauled it in.

The Bills called a timeout, and the Patriots now have the ball at the Buffalo 29 with 1:08 to go.

4th Quarter, 1:58: Just another big third-down conversion by Danny Amendola.

Brady hit him for six yards on 3rd and 3, and he picked up another first down with another six-yard reception on 2nd and 4.

Pats have the ball at the Buffalo 43 with just under two minutes left.

4th Quarter, 4:31: The Patriots defense continues to make stops, and is keeping the team in this one.

They forced a quick three-and-out by Buffalo, and the Patriots offense is back on the field with the ball at their own 34.

4th Quarter, 5:51: The Amendola catch was for nothing, as the Patriots are forced to punt again with time running out.

As good as Kenbrell Thompkins looked in the preseason, he looks like an undrafted rookie in his NFL debut. He and Brady have not been on the same page all day, and the rookie is struggling with his routes.

The Bills will take over at their own 20 with under six minutes to go.

4th Quarter, 7:48: Facing a HUGE 3rd and 10, Brady went back to his new Mr. Reliable.

Brady fired a rocket across the field and Danny Amendola made an amazing catch to move the chains. While people will criticize DA for being injury prone, when he’s on the field he makes all the difference.

4th Quarter, 10:48 — Bills 21, Patriots 20: After getting to the Buffalo 10-yard line, Brady and crew had four cracks at the end zone (thanks to yet another Bills’ penalty) but came up with just a field goal.

The drive started with a nice 35-yard connection between Brady and Edelman that got them to mid-field. Brady then hit Thompkins for 16-yards, as he became just the ninth player in NFL history to pass for over 45,000 career yards. Vereen then used a lovely Nate Solder block to break a 19-yard run to the Buffalo 10, and it looked like the Patriots were in business.

Not the case on this wild afternoon in Buffalo.

Brady couldn’t connect with Boyce on 1st and goal, Edelman or Thompkins on their two 2nd and goal attempts, and then was sacked by Kyle Williams on 3rd and goal.

Brady probably could have taken it himself on the 2nd down pass to Thompkins, but he went with the short pass instead.

So the Patriots settle for a 33-yarder by Gostkowski instead, and trail the Bills 21-20 with just under 11 minutes to play.

End of 3rd Quarter — Bills 21, Patriots 17: The Patriots are searching for answers as they head into the fourth quarter down 21-17 in Buffalo.

The offense hasn’t gotten anything going in the second half, and Brady is just 18-for35 for 175 yards, two touchdowns and a pick.

Stevan Ridley has yet to see the field since his fumble in the first half, leaving the running duties to Shane Vereen and LeGarrette Blount.

But if the Bills keep marching, and scoring, the Patriots won’t be running the ball too much the rest of the way.

3rd Quarter, 0:59: After a false start by Marcus Cannon, Brady and crew go three and out deep in their own zone.

Brady threw behind Vereen out of the backfield on 2nd and 11, and Michael Hoomanawanui could only manage five yards on his 3rd and 11 reception.

To make matters worse, Allen’s punt only went 35 yards and the Bills now take over on the New England 45.

3rd Quarter, 1:17: The Bills keep hurting themselves, and are keeping the Patriots in the game in the process.

The Bills were called for another illegal use of hands on a 3rd and 1 after Fred Jackson picked up the first with a nice 15-yard scamper. The Bills couldn’t convert on 3rd and 11, and were forced to punt.

They’re up to eight penalties on the afternoon for 65 yards.

But a 57-yard punt by Buffalo has the Patriots pined at their own three-yard line.

3rd Quarter, 4:12: The Patriots are not doing themselves any favors in Buffalo today.

After marching down the field and getting to the one-yard line, Bill Belichick went for it on fourth-and-goal. But Brady fumbled the snap, and the Bills recover.

The Patriots march 85 yards down the field but get nothing to show for it. They now have three turnovers on the day, with the first two leading to Buffalo touchdowns.

3rd Quarter, 5:38: When it’s third down, who does Brady go to? As long as he’s on the field, that’s going to be Danny Amendola.

He made two more third down receptions on this current drive, moving the chains with each of them.

3rd Quarter, 10:57: Brady’s first down pass went incomplete to Josh Boyce, but Danny Amendola is back out there on offense.

Stevan Ridley is not though, so it’s up to Shane Vereen in the Pats’ backfield. He broke a nice 20-yard run on second down, and could get the bulk of the carries the rest of the way.

3rd Quarter, 11:03 — Bills 21-17:  Stevie Johnson is probably the happiest man on the planet after putting his Bills on top of the Patriots 21-17 with an 18-yard touchdown.

It’s Johnson’s third career score against the Patriots, as he blew right by Kyle Arrington and Devin McCourty to haul in the Manuel offering in the corner of the end zone.

The Bills marched 80 yards in 11 plays, and Tom Brady did not look amused from the sidelines. Now it’s up to him and the offense to answer.

We’ll see if Danny Amendola joins them.

3rd Quarter, 12:58: EJ Manuel showed off his arm at the end of the half, and just showed off his legs to start off this one.

The quarterback called his own number when his targets downfield weren’t available on 2nd and 6, and took it 19 yards to the New England 36.

The crowd is starting to get into this one, and so is the Bills offense.

3rd Quarter, 14:35: The Bills get the ball to start the half, but linebacker Brandon Spikes has returned to the Patriots.

Hopefully he’s had enough Gatorade to last him this half.

Halftime — Patriots 17, Bills 14: It took EJ Manuel just two plays to turn that turnover into a touchdown.

After hitting Scott Chandler for 19 yards, Manuel found a wide open Robert Woods in the end zone for his first career touchdown pass. It looks it was Aqib Talib on the blown coverage, as Buffalo cuts the New England lead to 17-14 as we head to halftime. Not only are they within three points, but they get the ball to start the half, and must be feeling pretty good about themselves.

It was a very interesting first half, with both teams looking sloppy in the turnover department. The Patriots will have to clean it up on the offensive end over the final 30 minutes of football. The defense has done well in limiting Buffalo, who scored both their touchdowns off Patriots’ turnovers.

Just a quick Amendola update: he remained on the sidelines for the half instead of heading to the locker room, and it looked as though he wanted to get back in for the Patriots’ possession. But he was held back, and is questionable to return in the second half.

2nd Quarter, 1:03: The Pats got the ball back, but gave it right back to Buffalo with another turnover.

Tom Brady’s pass went right off the fingertips of rookie Zach Sudfeld and into the hands of Buffalo defensive back Justin Rodgers.

Rodgers made a great athletic play, catching the ball in mid-arm and holding on to it while falling to the ground. He was ruled down by contact, so Buffalo will take over at the New England 37 with just over a minute to play.

2nd Quarter, 1:55 — Patriots 17-7: Another injury concern has popped up for the Patriots. Danny Amendola is on the sidelines stretching out his groin.

The injury has bugged Amendola since the preseason, and it doesn’t look like it’s going away. He has three receptions for 40 yards on the afternoon.

BUT, with Amendola on the sidelines that opened the door for Julian Edelman’s second touchdown of the game — an eight-yard pass from Brady over the middle. Not bad for a receiver entering the day with just four career touchdowns.

Brady had all the time in the world on the last touchdown pass, and is now 12-for-23 for 116 yards and two touchdowns for the afternoon.

2nd Quarter, : Kyle Arrington is having the half of his career this afternoon in Buffalo.

Arrington ripped another ball loose for a fumble, this time from the hands of Marquis Goodwin, and Rob Ninkovich was there to scoop it up. It’s Arrington’s second forced-fumble of the afternoon.

The Patriots are now have a turnover differential of +70 over the last three years.

The Patriots will now take over at the Buffalo 32, but the most important part remains: turning this turnover into points.

2nd Quarter, 5:14: The Patriots looked to be in business after another Bills penalty gave them life on a 3rd down, but Kenbrell Thompkins couldn’t keep it alive.

The rookie made a nice grab on a 3rd and 5 pass from Brady, but couldn’t get both feet in-bounds in order to move the chains.

2nd Quarter, 7:50: LeGarrette Blount remained on the field after returning the kickoff, so it looks like Ridley will get some time to think about his most recent miscue.

2nd Quarter, 8:25 — Patriots 10, Bills 7: Stevan Ridley’s fumble issues have been well documented, but it’s especially alarming when the back causes his own fumbles.

The Patriots were primed to add to their lead when Ridley tripped over himself on a 1st down carry at the Buffalo 24. The ball came lose and Searcy picked it up and rumbled 75-yards for the end zone.

After his near-fumble in the first quarter, we’ll see if Bill Belichick goes with Vereen and LeGarette Blount over Ridley. The young back has six fumbles in his short career, so he might find himself back in Belichick’s doghouse.

2nd Quarter, 10:00: Kyle Arrington has been all over the place today, and nearly came up with another turnover because of it.

With the Bills facing a 3rd and 3, Manuel went short to Stevie Johnson. Arrington was there to defend the pass, and even made it look as though he picked off the pass. But replays show the ball clearly hit the ground and bounced up to Arrington.

Still, Arrington is showing that nose for the football and the secondary can use any kind of confidence boost they can get to start the season.

2nd Quarter, 10.42: Nothing doing for the Pats offense, as they go three-and-out on their latest possession.

Brady was under pressure on first down and underthrew Thompkins. After Vereen picked up six on second down, Brady was once again under pressure on third down and overthrew Vereen along the sidelines.

The good news is Ryan Allen’s third punt of the day was a beaut. After traveling 66 yards in the air and on a few bounces, the punt was downed at the Buffalo 8-yard line.

2nd Quarter, 11:42: The Bills crossed the 50, but that was about it on their latest drive.

Fred Jackson made a couple of nice runs, picking up 22 yards on three runs, but CJ Spiller was stuffed by a group of Patriots on 3rd and 1 and the Bills were forced to punt.

Joe Vellano was in on the stop of Spiller, with help from Tommy Kelly and Rob Ninkovich. Kelly now has a tackle and two assists to go with his fumble recovery this afternoon.

2nd Quarter, 14:00: Brady just took his first big hit of the season, thanks to Buffalo safety Da’Norris Searcy.

Facing a 3rd and 9, Brady had zero time as the Bills came rushing. Shane Vereen took off on his route, and Searcy had a clear path to Brady.

Allen’s second punt of the afternoon was not a good one. It went just 19 yards, and the Bills will take over at their own 28.

End Of 1st Quarter — Patriots 10, Bills 0: The Patriots close the first quarter with the lead and the football.

Facing a 3rd and 4 at their own 31, Brady calmy went to Amendola on the slant, and the new receiver took care of the rest. Amendola took his third catch of the afternoon seven yards for the first down out to the New England 38.

Brady finished the quarter 8-for-14 for 69 yards and a touchdown.

Stevan Ridley leads the way on the ground with 36 yards on six carries, and Amendola and Julian Edelman both have three receptions for the Pats.

1st Quarter, 2:26: The Bills worst enemy is the Buffalo Bills. In addition to their turnover, which led to seven points for New England, the Bills have four penalties for 35 yards, with the most recent 10-yarder on Cordy Glenn for illegal use of the hands ending any hope of putting a scoring drive together.

Buffalo didn’t do anything after the flag, with Manuel getting crushed by Chandler Jones as he let his third-down incompletion go to Spiller over the middle.

1st Quarter, 5:33 — Patriots 10, Bills 0:  The Patriots drive stalled a bit, but they did put points up on the board thanks to the leg of Stephen Gostkowski.

The Pats’ kicker booted a 48-yarder to put New England up 10-0 in the first quarter. Rookie Ryan Allen did a nice job getting a bad snap in a spot for Gostkowski, so overall it’s been a good day for the Patriots’ new punter so far.

It’s big for Gostkowski to hit that first one of the year and build confidence. He was shaky at points last season and against in the preseason, but so far so good.

1st Quarter, 8:30: Alfonzo Dennard nearly picked off EJ Manuel on the rookies’ first deep pass, but couldn’t hold on to the ball as he came to the ground.

But the Patriots defense got off the field after stuffing Spiller on 3rd and 13. The Pats offense will take over near midfield thanks to a Buffalo face mask on Julian Edelman’s punt return.

UPDATE: The word on Spikes is he is dealing with dehydration issues and is questionable to return.

1st Quarter, 9:52: Stevie Johnson just made his first catch, picking up a first down for Buffalo on a short pass from Manuel.

He may have moved the chains, but he is still looking for Patrick Chung on the Patriots’ defense.

On a much more serious note, linebacker Brandon Spikes has made his way to the Patriots’ locker room. We’ll keep you posted on this developing situation.

1st Quarter, 10:46 — Patriots 7, Bills 0: It didn’t take long for the Patriots to make the most of Spiller’s fumble.

Just two plays later, Brady thread the needle to Julian Edelman in the back of the end zone for New England’s first score of the season. Edelman cradled the ball as he fell to the ground as the Pats cash in on the early turnover.

Brady now has a touchdown pass in each of the last 49 games.

1st Quarter, 11:41:  Kyle Arrington got the start for the Patriots, and he’s already causing turnovers.

Arrington poked it out of CJ Spiller’s grasp on second down, and newcomer Tommy Kelly picked up the loose ball at the Buffalo 16.

1st Quarter, 12:05:  Nothing doing for the Pats after Amendola’s first down pickup.

Brady overthrew Kenbrell Thompkins over the middle on first down, and after Ridley was stuffed on second down the Bills ramped up their QB pressure and got to Brady as he threw. Shane Vareen tried to block a rushing Ron Brooks.

Rookie Ryan Allen’s first NFL punt went for 34 yards, and pinned the Bills at their own 10-yard line.

Now it’s time for rookie EJ Manuel to show the NFL what he’s got.

1st Quarter, 13:05: Facing a 3rd and 6 Brady went to Amendola again, who made a beautiful juggling catch over the middle to move the chains.

Get used to that Brady-Amendola connection, it’s going to happen a lot this season.

1st Quarter, 13:47: We’ve got our first challenge of the season with Buffalo rookie head coach Doug Marrone tossing the red flag for the first time in his career.

After Brady and Danny Amendola picked up a first down with a 10-yard connection, Stevan Ridley took one up the middle but fumbled. He picked up his own drop, but it was ruled he was down my contact. Marrone and Buffalo disagree.

It looks like the ball came out before Ridley was down, but the Bills didn’t recover so everyone is still wondering why Buffalo threw the flag. To make it even worse for the Bills, the the ruling on the field stood and the Patriots continue their first drive of the season.

1st Quarter, 15:00: The Patriots lose the opening toss but the Bills defer to the second half.

So it will be Tom Brady and his new receivers taking the field first for the Patriots.

Pregame — 12:20 p.m.: One final inactive to pass along from the Patriots.

Kick returner Leon Washington, who was re-signed on Saturday, joins the six other Patriots who are out today.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm) wide receiver Aaron Dobson (hamstring), running back Brandon Bolden (knee), defensive back Duron Harmon (hamstring) and defensive back Nate Ebner (ankle) were all ruled out for New England on Saturday.

12:15 p.m.: Are you ready for some football?

We sure hope so, because after today Sundays are booked for the next five months.

The Patriots kick off their 2013 in Buffalo this afternoon, looking for their 10th straight opening day win. Today marks the first time the Patriots are opening in Buffalo since the famous 2003 “Lawyer Milloy Game” in which they lost 31-0. The good news is the Pats bounced back nicely from that loss, and went on to win their second Super Bowl in three years.

Read: What To Watch For

The Patriots aren’t expected to lose this afternoon, but as the saying goes anything can happen on any given Sunday. And that especially goes for Week 1. While the Bills trot out a rookie quarterback and have issues of their own on the defensive side of the ball, with their top two defensive backs out this afternoon, the Patriots roll out a whole new crop of receivers for quarterback Tom Brady.

Danny Amendola leads the new group for Brady, with rookie Kenbrell Thompkins looking to bring his preseason success to games that count. The pressure will be on those two as second-round pick Aaron Dobson is sidelined with a hamstring injury, and the Patriots will also be looking for rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld to help alleviate the absence of Rob Gronkowski.

Read: Patriots-Bills Week 1 Predictions

With Brady running the show the Patriots offense should be OK this afternoon in Buffalo. They’ll also be counting much more on the running game, and Stevan Ridley seems determined to repeat his 2012 debut when he ran for 125 yards and a touchdown against the Titans. Add in Shane Vereen “The Touchdown Machine” and Legarette Blount, and the Pats rushing attack should be more-than-complimentary to the passing game.

There are plenty of questions surrounding the secondary on the defensive side, but there is hope that an aggressive pass-rush will help mask those issues. Veteran Tommy Kelly has been added to an already strong defensive line, and Chandler Jones looks ready to break out as one of the game’s best pass-rushers. The Patriots D has to be focused on putting a full 60-minute effort on the field, something that plagued them for much of the 2012 season.

Socci: New Season, New Beginning For Belichick’s Patriots

It’s a long road to the end goal, but it all gets underway this afternoon in Buffalo for the Patriots. Kickoff is set for 1 pm, and stick with CBSBostonsports.com for all the updates throughout the game, hear the action on 98.5 The Sports Hub (or streaming online), and watch the game on WBZ-TV.

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