A poor kick and strong winds caused Adam Vinatieri to miss two potential game-winning field goals as New England (7-8) lost to Buffalo 13-10 with less than two minutes left in overtime Sunday.
The Bills' Steve Christie made a 23-yard field goal with 1:48 remaining in sudden death overtime to hand the Patriots their sixth loss in seven games. Christie was given the chance to win the game only after Vinatieri missed attempts of 33 and 44 yards.
After Kato Serwanga sacked Doug Flutie on a third-and-four play with less than two minutes left, New England's Troy Brown returned a punt 17 yards to the Bills 42-yard line. A 25-yard run by Drew Bledsoe on first down gave the Patriots a first-and-10 at the Buffalo 17-yard line.
New England ran three running plays to run the clock down and set up a potential game-winning 33-yard kick for Vinatieri. However, his kick never came close as it sailed well right.
"Adam has been hitting the ball well in practice for the last few weeks," said Patriots Head Coach Pete Carroll, who added that he wasn't sure why the kick missed by so much. "He has done a lot of good things for us, but it didn't happen today."
In overtime, Vinatieri, who missed three field goals in the game, had a chance to redeem himself. The Patriots won the toss and elected to receive the ball in the extra session. The offense moved the ball 41 yards to the Buffalo 26 before stalling.
The drive set up a 44-yard attempt for Vinatieri, who appeared to kick the ball as well as he could. However, he was kicking into a very strong wind, and the football was knocked down one yard short of the crossbar. It was the second time in the game that a Vinatieri attempt fell short.
The loss offset strong performances by Terry Allen, Troy Brown and the Patriots defense. Allen ran 27 times for 126 yards and a 14-yard touchdown. Brown once again showed his guts and determination with 124 yards on four kickoff returns and 31 yards on a pair of punt returns.
The defense had held Flutie to 62 yards passing through three quarters and also forced and recovered three fumbles. Chris Sullivan played his best game of the year, as he had a forced fumble and a pass defensed. He also stopped Thurman Thomas on a key third-and-short, and later he tackled Thomas for loss of 4 yards.
At one point, New England's secondary consisted of Serwanga, Terry Billups, Tony George, Larry Whigham and Tebucky Jones. Despite significant playing time for each of those backups, Buffalo's first catch by a wide receiver didn't come until late in the third quarter. Bills' star Eric Moulds was held without a catch until there was 11:25 left in the fourth quarter.
"We're not going to quit," Bledsoe said. "I don't think anyone could have imagined that this could have happened to us, but the guys on this team still have a lot of pride."
Bledsoe himself refused to quit. Despite passing for just 101 yards and getting sacked six times, he refused to give up, and his 25-yard run allowed his team the chance to pull out the win.
"Through this whole stretch, we just haven't made the plays when we needed them," Bledsoe said. "This team is just not good enough to overcome mistakes."