Patriots Survive Bills Test, 4 Up – 4 Down On Sunday

New wide receivers? New regime in regime and QB in Buffalo? No problem…Same old Tom Brady and same result when New England plays Buffalo.

The New England Patriots escaped with a 23-21 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in the season opener. The Patriots struggled with a new and energized Bills defense for most of the afternoon but were able to do enough to get the win.

Stephen Gostkowski kicks a field goal with 5 seconds left to beat the Buffalo Bills 23-21 on Sunday. (AP Photo)

Stephen Gostkowski kicks a field goal with 5 seconds left to beat the Buffalo Bills 23-21 on Sunday. (AP Photo)

The win was the 21st in the last 23 games against Buffalo and the Patriots 10th win to open a season in a row. Ironically, the last time the Patriots lost an opening game was in Buffalo in 2003.

The Patriots had trouble with ball security and the young wide receivers had trouble keeping their feet as they many times lost their footing coming out of their breaks as well as holding on the ball.

But when the game was on the line, Tom Brady, Danny Amendola and Shane Vereen were at their best and led the team to a game winning drive culminating with a Stephen Gostowski field goal with just five seconds left.

“I didn’t have a lot of doubt,” Brady said, of the final drive with the game in balance.”We’ve got a team full of fighters. There’s going to be some ugly wins, but we’re always going to fight until the end.”

The final drive was the 36th time of Brady’s career that he’s led the Patriots to victory while tied or trailing in the fourth quarter.

For the Bills, it is more of the same frustration when facing Brady and the Patriots, “You talk about sense of disappointment: It is devastating,” Buffalo coach Doug Marrone said. “When we go out there and we have opportunities, and you can’t win that game, I’m letting them down.”

Here are our 4 Up and 4 Down for the game:

Up-

Danny Amendola – Great performance in his first game in a Patriots uniform. After re-aggravating a groin injury in the first half, Amendola returned in the second half and responded with a gutsy, tough performance and had 10 catches for 104 including four on the final game winning drive.

Shane Vereen – Vereen takes over for a benched Stevan Ridley and responds with a very solid performance. Vereen carried 14 times for 101 yards and caught 7 passes for 58 more. His 15 yard run on the final drive along the left sideline put the Patriots in easy field goal range for Stephen Gostkowski

Tom Brady – Brady had a frustrating afternoon for much of the game. Ball security issues, never an issue with the Patriots offense reared its head, coupled with an aggressive Buffalo defense kept the Patriots at bay. But when the game was on the line, Brady rallied the Patriots, going a perfect 7-7 on the final drive that resulted in his 36th career come from behind victory.

Kyle Arrington – Arrington who drew rare praise from Bill Belichick just a few weeks ago in training camp has a strong first game, forcing two fumbles in the first half. The Patriots were able to turn both fumbles into Julian Edelman touchdowns. The defense allowed Buffalo only 150 yards passing for the day.

Honorable Mention- Julian Edelman, played a strong first half with 2 touchdown receptions from Tom Brady. Edelman finished with 7 receptions for 79 yards.

Down 

Stevan Ridley – Ridley’s fumble issues return with him putting the ball onto the ground twice in the first half resulting in him being benched the rest of the game. His second which happened on the Buffalo 25 yard line resulted in a 74 yard return for a touchdown that totally changed the tenor of the game.

Kenbrell Thompkins – Rookie wide receiver had 4 catches for 42 yards in his debut. But the bigger story was his inability to make cuts while keeping his feet and dropped a few catchable balls. Normally a sharp route runner, Thompkins had some sloppy routes as well and wasn’t a factor in the second half.

Ryan Allen –Poor showing in his first NFL game for the rookie punter. With a chance to showcase his leg in punting from his end zone he could only manage a 39 yard punt and also shanked a 19 yarder while trying to pin the Bills back inside their 20 yard line.

Zach Sudfeld – Like Thompkins, lost his feet coming out of a break and the result was a Tom Brady pass bouncing off his hands and right into a defender’s for an interception. Was a total non-factor in the game, was limited in snaps and overall the tight end position was targeted only 3 times with 1 reception for 5 yards and an interception.

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