To be totally honest, even though I was at Ralph Wilson Stadium, I didn’t remember much from this game before looking it up. Just another nondescript, hard-to-watch loss to New England in a long string of them. The Bills self-destructed, committing 104 yards in penalties in the first half alone, including pass-interference calls that gave New England first-and-goal on both of their touchdown drives. Even though the Patriots weren’t all that great on this Sunday afternoon, they were once again good enough to beat Buffalo.
With just 5:32 remaining in the game, Fred Jackson took Trent Edwards’ swing pass and scampered 10 yards into the end zone, giving the Bills a 24-13 lead in front of a stunned national audience and a suddenly-quiet Gillette Stadium sellout crowd. How could this be happening with a team starting three offensive linemen who had never played a down in the NFL, and a coordinator who had just inherited the job 10 days before the game? Could this really be the night the Bills put all their ignominious records against the Patriots to rest? Were the football gods finally smiling on Buffalo for a change?
We should have known better. Instead, after spending the entire preseason working toward shocking the rest of the league, the Bills merely managed to find yet another creative – and heartbreaking – way to let victory slip from their grasp. (Literally, in this case, when Leodis McKelvin’s fumbled kickoff return ended up in the arms of Stephen Gostkowski at the Buffalo 31, giving Tom Brady a short field for the eventual game-winning score.)
Not that Brady needed much help. After a shaky start that included a pick-six to Aaron Schobel, the Patriots’ career passing leader settled into rhythm in the second half, completing 11 of 13 passes on New England’s two fourth-quarter touchdown drives and finishing the game 39-for-53 for 378 yards. A dozen each of those passes went to wideouts Randy Moss and Wes Welker, but when the game was on the line, Ben Watson was the player the Buffalo defense couldn’t cover. Twice in the final 2:06, Brady found the big tight end open over the middle for a touchdown – the latter one giving his team its only lead of the game – and so it was that Watson added his name to the lengthy list of Bills-killers on the Patriots’ roster.
This recap originally appeared in the preview for the December 20, 2009 game.