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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Sep 25 - 12:00 AM | Sun Sep 27 - 10:40 AM

Patriots suffer tough loss

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            After battling from behind to take their first lead with little more than two minutes left, the New England Patriots suffered a heart-breaking 16-13 overtime loss to Buffalo on a rainy Sunday evening.  

Unfortunately several costly mistakes cost New England the game. New England (2-7) had eight penalties for 103 yards, and the final penalty of the night was the most costly. Facing second-and-10 from the Buffalo 35-yard line on Buffalo's first possession of overtime, Flutie threw long down the left sideline to Eric Moulds. The ball fell incomplete, but Ty Law was flagged for a 22-yard pass interference to give the Bills a first-and-10 at the New England 43.

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            The Bills moved the ball 30 yards on the next four plays to set up Christie's 32-yard, game-winning field goal.  

"I will take this one for the team, for myself and for Coach [Bill] Belichick," Law said. "Now I have to be ready to move on and be ready for the next opponent."

Backup quarterback John Friesz turned in a decent performance after Drew Bledsoe was lost for the game with a thumb injury in the second quarter. With Friesz at the helm, the Patriots rallied from a 10-point deficit to a three-point lead.

New England trailed 10-0 with just 67 seconds left in the first half when Willie McGinest recovered a Doug Flutie fumble at the Buffalo 33-yard line. Four plays later Adam Vinatieri nailed a 48-yard field goal on the final play of the half to make the score 10-3.

New England appeared to have the momentum, as the team moved the ball to the Buffalo 45 on its first possession before being forced to punt. The defense came on and held the Bills to a three-and-out series, and Troy Brown returned the punt to the Buffalo 34.

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            On first down Friesz threw to Tony Simmons in the end zone and drew a pass interference call on Henry Jones. The following series of plays were a bizarre sequence. On first down, Redmond ran up the middle for no gain. On second down, Friesz fumbled the snap and recovered it for a 5-yard loss. However, a personal foul facemask on Ken Irvin made it first-and-goal at the 1-yard line.  

Again Redmond (24 carries, 64 yards) ran up the middle for no gain, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Joe Andruzzi for continuation made it first-and-goal at the 16. After a 3-yard pass play, Friesz again went for the goal line and drew another pass interference, this time on Jones in coverage of Rod Rutledge.

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            The next play produced Friesz' biggest mistake. This one hurt the most, as he threw an interception in the end zone on first-and-goal from the 1-yard line. After several rushing attempts had failed to punch the ball into the end zone, the Patriots called a pass play for fullback Tony Carter. Carter got bottled up at the line of scrimmage, and Friesz tried to force the ball to Redmond. The play was a disaster, as Buffalo's John Holecek intercepted the pass and killed the rally.  

"I'm a veteran. I should have known better," Friesz said. "I screwed up there. It was a poor decision."

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            On his overall performance, Friesz said he was "extremely average." He did say he was comfortable entering the game because he had seen a majority of the snaps during the week leading up to the game. With Bledsoe out of practice Thursday because of the birth of his third son, Friesz got all of the repetitions that day.  

"I threw a lot of balls that were extremely inaccurate for me," said Friesz, who was 11-of-21 for 66 yards. "It was frustrating because that's not the way I can play football. It's going to be difficult to sleep tonight."

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            Friesz and the offense rebounded in the fourth quarter, as they capitalized on another strong punt return by Brown. Brown fielded a punt at his own 48 and returned it 25 yards to the 27-yard line. It took 10 plays, but the Patriots finally punched the ball into the end zone on a 1-yard run by Redmond to tie the game at 10-10 with nine minutes to go.  

Seven minutes later New England seemed to have pulled off the comeback when Vinatieri made a 43-yard field goal with 2:03 remaining in the game. However Buffalo responded with a 10 play, 46-yard drive to set up a 48-yard field goal by Christie with four seconds left. That sent the game to overtime and set up the crushing result.

"We missed a few opportunities tonight," Belichick said. "It was a different type of game from the things that have happened this year. We had some opportunities at the goal line, and we threw a ball that should not have been thrown. Defensively we had a couple errors at the end of the game. We had breakdowns at the wrong times.

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            "For Bledsoe, the extent of his injury is not yet known. He jammed the thumb on a helmet while throwing a pass and the injury was aggravated each time he tried to take a snap. The team said the injury is day-to-day at this point.  
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