It couldn't have gone any worse if you were a New England Patriot or one of their fans. In one of the most dreadful games in Patriots history, New England dropped its season opener to the Buffalo Bills to the tune of 31-0. The score doesn't even come close to describing how awful this one was.
With Tom Brady throwing four interceptions, two of them to Takeo Spikes, and the Patriots defense being manhandled for most of the game, this one was no contest. Lawyer Milloy started at safety and must have enjoyed every minute of it.
It was a dismal first half for New England – as bad as it gets. Numbers like 4 for 11 passing for 19 yards and two interceptions for Brady tell some of the story. Add in the 20 yards in sacks and we're talking about –1 net yards through the air. The Patriots first first down came at 9:23 of the second quarter and it was the result of a Buffalo penalty. It was that bad.
Bledsoe orchestrated a scoring drive on his offense's first try, going 80 yards on 10 plays. A key 24-yard pass to Bobby Shaw on third and 7 kept things going and Ty Law's pass interference penalty brought the ball to the 1-yard line where Henry knocked it in.
The rest of the first quarter was dominated by the Bills as New England managed only three plays from scrimmage.
On the Bills second drive that extended into the second quarter, despite four penalties including one on the punt return that had them starting at their own 10, Buffalo continued to shred the Patriots defense. A 46-yard pass to Moulds down the middle of the field had Law barking at Antwan Harris. After Colvin sacked Bledsoe for an 8-yard loss, Bledsoe hit Moulds again, for 24. Even a bad snap that created a fourth and 16 from the 40 couldn't stop the Bills as Fred Baxter committed a penalty on the punt that gave Buffalo an automatic first down and new life at the 35. Buffalo ran it the rest of the way and Bledsoe hit Dave Moore for a 7-yard touchdown to cap the drive and a 14-0 Bills lead.
When the Patriots finally got the ball back with 13:17 left in the second quarter after the massive 9:28 drive for Buffalo, the anemia continued. Again the Patriots went three and out and showed no signs of being able to crack the Bills defense.
Things got dreadfully worse for New England. After holding the Bills to a three and out – a good thing – Brady committed huge turnover -- one of many bad things. On second and 10 from his own 39, London Fletcher got in the backfield and hit Brady's arm as he attempted to throw. The ball wound up in Sam Adams arms and the huge tackle rumbled down the right sideline for the score.
New England's worst nightmare was coming to life.
And just when it looked like the Patriots might mount some kind of offense, disaster struck again. As Brady looked downfield he might have taken a bit too long to unload to David Patten who was open heading towards the end zone. The small delay gave enough time for Lawyer Milloy, of all people, to come over and tip the ball. Nate Clements came up with the deflection and kept his feet in bounds for the touchback.
In addition to the tipped pass, Milloy also earned a sack of Brady on the Patriots next drive to kill yet another series.
While New England's defense played with a little more spirit in the third quarter, nothing was gained by the effort. The Patriots best chance to get on the scoreboard came when Bledsoe fumbled and Willie McGinest recovered setting up a first and 10 on the Bills 22. But on third and goal from the 3, a costly penalty, one of many, brought the ball back to the 8. Patten nearly came up with a great catch in the corner of the end zone on the next play but it was ruled he lost possession as he came down. Belichick challenged the play but lost. On fourth and goal, Brady hit Branch in the numbers as he streaked across the back of the end zone but the ball bounced harmlessly to the ground.
As the fourth quarter opened, the Bills again were threatening. Brady had thrown his third interception of the game, this one to Takeo Spikes, and Eugene Wilson followed up that negative play with a pass interference call that put the Bills deep in New England territory. Henry ended up with the 9-yard rushing touchdown for the 28-0 Buffalo lead.
For good measure Rian Lindell tacked on a 44-yard field goal to make the final score 31-0.
On the day, Brady had only 123 yards passing. Kevin Faulk may have provided the glimmer of hope on the day with his 62 yards rushing and 25 yards in receptions.
It will be a long week for New England as they prepare for another road game, this one in Philadelphia.