It is probably safe to say that many Bills fans are looking at this coming Monday night with hope. Hope that Brady isn't quite himself, that Welker isn't as quick as he usually is, and the backfield-by-committee stumbles. Hope that Trent Edwards finds Terrell Owens early and often. For a very long time, nine years under Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots have had great success against their division rivals, the Buffalo Bills. I don't write this to gloat nor do I EVER believe a matchup against Buffalo is a guaranteed W. But history tells the story and history is 16-2. That's right. There's only 2 games under a Bill Belichick coached Patriots where the Bills have bested us.
The many Bills fans I've chatted with via our blogs are so hopeful of a win, but the reality of our 18 previous matchups is hard to ignore. Some would say NE simply has Buffalo's number. Who knows. What I DO know is that Brady's back after a year's absence and Belichick wants to test out his shiny new offensive weapons and check out a defense without Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi, and Rodney Harrison. There's a lot to see. But, from a years-gone-by perspective, it seems appropriate, as we approach the 50th Anniversary of the AFL, to take a historical look at those previous matchups. I'll break this up into two parts: 2000-2004 for Part 1 and 2005-2008 for Part 2.
Nov 5, 2000 - BUF 16 @ NE 13
Oddly enough, Doug Flutie was responsible for NE's undoing. Throwing 18 for 37 and 179 yards and one TD, it was just enough to best our Patriots. Hey, I can't hold it against Doug; he was just doing what he was paid to do. Unfortunately for Buffalo, this would be 50% of their wins up until now.
Dec 17, 2000 - NE 13 @ BUF 10
Flutie, throwing 15 for 25 and 193 yards, actually had a better game in the air than his previous Nov 5th win, but he was sacked 3 times. NE eeks out a three point win that is best described as a defensive battle.
Nov 11, 2001 - BUF 11 @ NE 21
2001 saw the emergence of Tom Brady after Drew Bledsoe suffered an almost fatal injury. Brady threw for a very unimpressive 15 for 21 and 107 yards with one TD. He also accounted for two fumbles and one interception. The difference, however, was Antowain Smith's 100 yards rushing, two TD's, and a long of 42. This game was won on the ground.
Dec 16, 2001 - NE 12 @ BUF 9
Both quarterbacks, A. Van Pelt and Tom Brady, had great yardage stats, posting over 200 yards, but no touchdowns. All points were scored through the uprights with Adam Vinatieri hitting four FG's to Graham's three. Graham went 3/4 and could've tied the game.
Nov 3, 2002 - NE 38 @ BUF 7
Fresh off a Superbowl win, NE hammered Buffalo in a face off between Tom Brady and his mentor, now Buffalo QB Drew Bledsoe. Brady threw 22/26 and 265 yards while Bledsoe went 28/45 and 302 yards. The difference? Brady threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions to Bledsoe's one touchdown and one interception. The tell all stat in this game was red zone efficiency: NE: 4/5 to BUF 1/5. Let's not forget three missed field goals for Buffalo. This was an NE defense absolutely destroying Bledsoe when it was needed: in the red zone. The student has become the teacher.
Dec 8, 2002 - BUF 17 @ NE 27
Bledsoe throws an impressive 328 yards to Brady's 183. However, both rack up two touchdowns. The killer for the Bills and Drew? Four interceptions. Definitely a game killer.
Sep 7, 2003 - NE 0 @ BUF 31
This was an absolute obliteration of the Patriots. Even though Bledsoe only threw for one touchdown, he did manage 230 yards to Brady's zero touchdowns and 123 yards. The difference makers were a) four Brady interceptions, one returned for a touchdown and b) an NE 0/2 red zone efficiency to Buffalo's 3/3. This will be the last time in this decade the Bills win a game against the Patriots.
Dec 27, 2003 BUF 0 @ NE 31
This is New England's year. An exact reversal of their embarrassing loss on September 7th, Brady is unconscious with four touchdown passes and no interceptions. The game could've been even worse for the Bills; NE's red zone efficiency was 4/6. All that mattered was the Bills were 0/3 under 20 yards.
Oct 3, 2004 - NE 31 @ BUF 17
Tom Brady throws for 50 more yards and two touchdowns to Drew Bledsoe's one touchdown and one interception. A Corey Dillon touchdown and a Richard Seymour 68 yard TD on a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter put the nail in the coffin. Buffalo just couldn't hang on.
Nov 14, 2004 - BUF 6 @ NE 29
While Tom Brady only threw 19 for 35, 233 yards, and 2 touchdowns, Corey Dillon had a massive 151 yards rushing. Oddly enough, there were no rushing touchdowns, but the Bills threw for four interceptions. The real star of this game? Adam V's foot - 5/5 field goals.