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Patriots vs. Bills: Fan Notes from the Game

Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots' 23-21 victory over the Buffalo Bills.

Rick Stewart

Happy Overreaction Monday, everyone!

Now that an entire week of NFL action is in the books (save for two games tonight, of course), I can now say with complete certainty that the following truths are not only self-evident, but iron-clad, inarguable, absolute, and steadfastly unchanging for the rest of the year, no matter what:

Peyton Manning is the 2013 MVP. He will throw 100 TD passes with no interceptions, and when he hoists the Lomardi Trophy in a few months, angels will descend from heaven to carry him off the field. Because of that, the Denver Broncos are just plain unstoppable. They have nowhere to go but up, and just you wait until they get Von Miller and Champ Bailey back. That they are in the AFC West is too bad for the Kansas City Chiefs, who are also a Super Bowl contender. The Saints are also back in a big way, but stick a fork in the Steelers; they're done.

And of course, perhaps the most absolute truth of all: the 2013 New England Patriots are in way over their heads here. I mean sure, they won yesterday, but not really; after all, a 23-21 win over the lowly Bills can hardly count as a victory, right? If the Patriots don't blow out the teams they are supposed to blow out, it's a surefire sign that they aren't a good team, right?

Of course not. I for one couldn't care less how the team wins, as long as they get the W. Granted, blowouts would be a lot easier on my heart and blood pressure, but I'm not about to start getting upset over what transpired yesterday. The bottom line is that many of the things that went wrong - missed snaps, miscommunication, drops, fumbles, early pressures - are all things that you can pretty much expect from a young team that still need to get their reps up. And plus, there were PLENTY of things to like about yesterday's game, not the least of which being something that rhymes with "Fanny Pam Mend Cola." And while we're not in the business of hearing good Patriots news from the Boston media, that doesn't mean that there isn't any.

Let's get to the notes.
  • This is the only time you'll hear me say this: good to hear your voice again, Dierdorf. Glad to hear that you still get excited when the sun is shining.
  • I originally planned on keeping a tally of the number of times you hear the words "Welker" and "Amendola" in the same sentence this season, but realized very quickly what an exercise in futility that is.
  • You know what another exercise in futility is? Challenging a fumble that you didn't even recover anyway. Nice challenge, Doug. What were you thinking? in the words of the immortal Dan Dierdorf, "I don't understand."
  • That catch that Amendola made where it was behind him and he had to turn around to catch it reminded me of a certain other similar pass to another similar receiver in a certain game a few Februaries ago. There's just one small difference, which I won't be going into here. (Editor's Note: as I was going back through this article and fixing any typos, I realized that this note could have applied to five or six catches yesterday. Atta boy, Dannny).
  • Seriously, though, Amendola is a monster. He pulled in tough catch after tough catch, all over the field and in traffic. Offensive MVP for the day.
  • I was actually pleased overall with New England's first possession. When you're pinned back deep to start, sometimes changing fields is as good as you can hope for.
  • That said, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't entertaining some wild fantasy about the Patriots not punting all year. Oh well.
  • The football-sized welt that Julian Edelman is going to have on his sternum from that TD pass might be there all season, serving as some kind of weird third nipple. Glad to see that Tommy B has lost all that arm strength with age.
  • Bill Belichick rocking the hoodie early this season. He usually pimps that sateen Patriots polo shirt for the first few games.
  • How can Brandon Spikes be suffering from dehydration in the first quarter of the first game of the year? I hope he hasn't been spending more time on Chatroulette this offseason. As someone who was as hydrated as they get yesterday, I have a hard time believing that Spikes wouldn't take care of his body
  • Remember when Kenbrell Thompkins caught every single pass that went his way in the preseason? Definitely looking forward to the "Thompkins skittish when it matters" articles.
  • It looks like the offseason number change did good things for Kyle Arrington. He looked solid in both coverage and run support, forced some huge turnovers, and was all over the field.
  • STILL not a fan of the new "Patriots" Font on the logo. I know that we're never going to go back to the old school Pat Patriot logo and writing, but this new font looks like a tattoo a douchebag named Pat Riots would get across his back.
  • I fear I may have doomed Stevan Ridley for 2013 by drafting him in two fantasy leagues. (NOTE: you're going to see this note from me a lot this year. I'm trying an experiment where I reverse jinx Ridley whenever I think he might be struggling. We'll see how it goes.)
  • Dierdorf on the reason that Tommy B wasn't throwing as much to his tight ends: "that's because the tight ends he's used to throwing to aren't here." Got it, Dan.
  • 19 yard punt from Ryan Allen. Visions of Ken Walter are starting to haunt me.
  • How does Fred Jackson eat New England's lunch every single game?
  • During the commercials, I bounced around my NFL Sunday Ticket package to see what was going on around the league. And for some reason, flipping to the Jets game and seeing a 7-2 score absolutely cracked me up. I know the Jets went on to win off of a ridiculous penalty, but to have the score at 7-2 is just funny to me.
  • You have to give credit to the Bills front four for creating a lot of pressure on Tommy B. That said, kind of a shaky outing for the offensive line. Glad they shored up when it mattered, and they'll get better as the season goes on, but Brady can't be taking tons of hits all year.
  • Definitely a few minor accuracy issues for Brady early on. I'm going to attribute that to some early pressure from the Bills, it being the first game of the season, and that he was having some early drawbridge troubles over the moat in his new house.
  • Reaaaaallly not a good look, Ridley. Two fumbles in one half, one of which results in points and in which you weren't even touched.
  • I fear I may have doomed Stevan Ridley for 2013 by drafting him in two fantasy leagues.
  • I fear I may have doomed Stevan Ridley for 2013 by drafting him in two fantasy leagues.
  • I fear I may have doomed Stevan Ridley for 2013 by drafting him in two fantasy leagues.
  • Luckily for Ridley, that ball-hawking, hard-hitting, chill-inducing corner Arrington was there to make the necessary play to get that momentum back where it belonged.
  • What excactly is "going Ohio State" on a football?
  • While he eventually came back (thank Tebow), here was my initial reaction after the Danny Amendola groin injury: And there goes Amendola for eight or nine games. At least we got one good quarter out of him. And plus, it's not like Wes Welker had a good game on Thursday or anything.
  • Yikes. That Sudfeld turnover was really troubling. Yes, it was a bit of a lucky bounce, but that's a catch you absolutely have to make - especially since one of our TEs is working as hard as he can to get back on the field and the other one is working as hard as he can to hold onto the soap in the shower.
  • You know what I didn't miss this offseason? Having to sit through an entire halftime report a complete nervous wreck because the Patriots are having trouble getting going and are keeping a game they should be winning big way closer than it should be. Could do without that for sure.
  • Also didn't miss long, sustained drives by the opponent to open up the third quarter that ends in points and during which the opposing QB was never in trouble at any point.
  • Nor did I miss making rookie QBs look like superstars. Son of a...
  • On the plus side, it's great to see McDaniels continuing to commit to that toss play, seeing as it worked so well for them last year.
  • 3rd and goal from the 2, New England comes out with a small running back and no big meathead tight ends. Me no like.
  • When Brady straight-up fumbled a good snap on the goal line and the Bills recovered it and was somehow able to run it out without getting touched, I started to think that just maybe Week 1 wasn't going to go the way I had hoped.
  • And then when the ensuing Bills punt seemed to hit an invisible glass wall to keep it out of the end zone for the touchback and pinned the Pats offense back inside their own 5, that realization sank in just a bit more.
  • AND THEN, when Brady was incredibly inaccurate with the ball when pinned back at his own goal line, I became fairly certain the Pats were going to drop this one. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't.
  • Thank God for Julian Edelman, eh? That said...that one in the end zone that he couldn't quite get his hands on was supposed to go to Gronk. Gronk catches that pass 95 times out of 100.
  • Same thing with that corner end zone pass. Dammit.
  • Nate Solder literally threw Shane Vereen forward for about 15 yards at one point.
  • Thompkins really should have caught that TD pass, as he shouldn't have just stopped and stood there in the end zone. You cut back to the other sideline, which is what Tommy B thought he was going to do. That's Deion Branch 101 right there.
  • I don't want to rely so heavily on AFC East receivers dropping passes to stall drives.
  • Vereen really ran the ball well yesterday. Even plays that should have been losses resulted in no gain at thew absolute worst.
  • I fear I may have doomed Stevan Ridley for 2013 by drafting him in two fantasy leagues.
  • You'd think that CBS wouldn't use the color yellow to highlight the final results of the other games around the league. Towards the end of the fourth quarter I was starting to think there was a flag on every play.
  • Remember when as long as we got into FG range, it was pretty much guaranteed points and there was no reason to be nervous?
  • Danny Amendola, I take back every bad thing I ever said about you.What a grab.
  • A great non-Arby's related way to make Alec Shane poop in his pants: a shotgun draw play in which Shane Vereen runs backwards about 5 yards and out of field goal range before he turns the corner and picks up a massive first down.
  • I don't remember ever being nervous that Brady was going to botch a snap that would set up a gimme field goal...but I was yesterday.
  • Note to self: appreciate offseason Sundays more. For about 30 Sundays a year, I'm not sweating, pacing, yelling, and hydrating myself into oblivion. It was a beautiful day yesterday and I wasn't able to enjoy a good half of it.
The goal of Week 1 is to start the season 1-0. Mission accomplished. Just don't tell Bill Belichick that.