Observations from Patriots vs. Bills

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots looked sloppy, making plenty of uncharacteristic mistakes in their season opener against the Bills. Despite escaping with a 23-21 victory, there is plenty for Bill Belichick to talk about during the team’s next film session.

After jumping out to a quick 10-0 lead in the first quarter it looked like the Patriots were going to run away with this one. That wasn’t the case, as the Bills rallied to take the lead and carried it late into the fourth quarter.

Luckily Tom Brady was able to engineer a 12-play, 49-yard drive on the Patriots’ final possession, setting up a game-winning, 35-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.

Here are a few observations from the Patriots’ season opener in Buffalo:

Turnovers:

There were a total of five turnovers in this game, three of which were committed by New England.

After Stevan Ridley lost the ball on his first carry of the season, replays showed he was down by contact. In the second quarter Ridley put the ball on the ground again, and this time it was ruled a fumble. The loose ball was recovered and returned 74 yards for a touchdown by Bills safety D’aNorris Searcy. Ridley was benched for the remainder of the game following the miscue.

Tom Brady was responsible for a pair of turnovers himself. He threw an interception when he tried to hit rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld in the closing minutes of the second quarter. The pass was bobbled by Sudfeld and fell into the hands of Bills cornerback Justin Rogers.

Brady later had an inexplicable fumble on 4th-and-1 at the Bills goal line. It wasted a solid 14-play, 89-yard drive.

Bills Strong Defense: You know you’ve had a good day when you force three fumbles against the New England Patriots. The Buffalo defense was excellent from the very get-go. The defensive line consistently pressured Brady, sacking the quarterback twice.

The secondary—despite being without All-Pro safety Jairus Byrd—was also sharp, making the receivers work for every reception and limiting yards after the catch.

Thompkins struggles: Kenbrell Thompkins dominated the spotlight during the preseason, but was a relative non-factor on Sunday. The rookie receiver was targeted 14 times in the game but managed just four receptions for 42 yards.

He also had a drop in the end-zone for what would have been the go-ahead score.

Amendola, Vereen and Edelman Save the Day:

Danny Amendola: 10 Receptions, 104 Yards

Shane Vereen: 14 Carries 101 Yards & 7 Receptions, 58 Yards

Julien Edelman: 7 Receptions, 79 Yards, 2 TDs

These three combined for 24 of Tom Brady’s 29 completions Sunday afternoon. Amendola—who returned after re-aggravating a preexisting groin injury—and Vereen also stepped up big on the Patriots’ final drive, securing the come-from-behind victory. The two combined for eight catches for 36 yards, while Vereen tacked on 21 more on the ground.

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