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New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Game Day Preview

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2008
RALPH WILSON STADIUM
ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK
1:00 PM EST

TELEVISION

CBS / CBS HD
PLAY-BY-PLAY: Greg Gumbel
COLOR ANALYSTS: Dan Dierdorf

DIRECTV NFL Sunday Ticket:
Channel 706 / Channel 706-1 (HD)

RADIO

Bills Radio Network
PLAY-BY-PLAY: John Murphy
COLOR ANALYST: Mark Kelso
SIDELINE REPORTER: Paul Peck

Patriots Rock Radio Network
PLAY-BY-PLAY: Gil Santos
COLOR ANALYST: Gino Cappelletti

Sirius Sunday Drive
Channel 147 (Buffalo feed)
Channel 122 (New England feed)
Sirius on XM: Channel 102 (New England feed)

HISTORY

REGULAR-SEASON SERIES RECORD: Patriots lead, 55-40-1. Thanks to their recent winning streak, they’re now 26-21-1 in Buffalo, 19-15 at Rich/Ralph Wilson Stadium.

PLAYOFF RECORD: Patriots lead, 1-0. Forty-five years ago today, on Dec. 28, 1963, the Patriots defeated Buffalo 26-8 in a tie-breaker game at War Memorial Stadium to win the AFL Eastern Division championship.

LAST MEETING: November 9, 2008 – Patriots 20, Bills 10

Olean Times Herald coverage:
A patently bad day for the Bills
POLLOCK: Sinking Bills are starting to unravel
Bills Notebook: Moss, Welker catch up on records
POLLOCK: Edwards still confident as Bills struggle

In what has become an annual tradition, the Bills put up little resistance in a double-digit loss at One Patriot Place. It may show up in the record books as only a 10-point margin, but New England dominated the game far more than the final score might indicate.

The Pats won the toss, deferred, forced a quick three-and-out, drove 71 yards to Matt Cassel’s 13-yard touchdown run, added a field goal following the first of two Trent Edwards interceptions, and played keepaway for the rest of the afternoon. Buffalo did manage to drive to the 4-yard line midway through the second quarter, but as usual, the drive ground to a halt and Rian Lindell was called on to break the shutout with a 25-yard field goal.

Another Stephen Gostkowski field goal made the score 13-3 midway through the third quarter. Marcus Stroud and George Wilson gave the struggling Bills offense a chance to do some damage early in the fourth when they combined for a strip-sack of Matt Cassel, forcing a fumble Wilson recovered at his own 44. But after a sack knocked them out of Lindell’s range and Kevin Faulk fair-caught Brian Moorman’s punt at his own 8, the Patriots offense put the game out of reach with a clock-grinding, 19-play, 92-yard drive capped off by BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ 1-yard plunge at the two-minute warning.

Leodis McKelvin broke the ensuing kickoff return all the way back to the Pats’ 14-yard line, and Edwards found James Hardy for a touchdown on the next play to cut the Patriots’ lead to 20-10, but the ensuing onside kick didn’t work and the game ended with three Cassel kneeldowns.

NOTES:

  • New England held the ball for 37:40, and outgained the Bills 370-168.
  • Edwards had a forgettable afternoon, completing 13-of-23 passes for just 120 yards and two interceptions to go with his touchdown pass to Hardy.
  • Lee Evans caught just two passes for 22 yards, but those catches were good enough to keep his 67-game reception streak intact ... until it ended eight days later against the Browns, eight games shy of tying Peerless Price (75) for second place in team history behind Eric Moulds (121) ...
  • The rushing attack never got on track; Marshawn Lynch led the team with a paltry 46 yards on 14 carries, while running mate Fred Jackson managed just 4-14 ...
  • Rian Lindell’s 32-yard field goal in the second quarter was the 134th of his career in Buffalo, pushing him past Scott Norwood for second place on the Bills’ all-time list behind leader Steve Christie (234) ...
  • With Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan sidelined for the Patriots, Green-Ellis took advantage of his playing time to register his first career 100-yard rushing game. The undrafted rookie from Ole Miss finished the game with 105 yards on 26 carries.
  • Wes Welker was uncoverable, catching 10 passes for 107 yards – his ninth straight game with at least six receptions, breaking the previous league record.
  • New England improved to 6-3 with the win, moving a game ahead of the 5-4 Bills, whose three-game showdown against the rest of the AFC East resulted in a tumble from the top to the bottom of the division.

LAST TIME IN ORCHARD PARK: November 18, 2007 – Patriots 56, Bills 10

Olean Times Herald postgame coverage:
Brady, Moss and undefeated Patriots rout Bills
Bills Notebook: Patriots’ 56 points most against Bills at home
POLLOCK:  How will the befuddled Bills respond?

With the undefeated Patriots juggernaut rolling into town to face a suddenly resurgent Buffalo squad on a four-game winning streak of its own, few were surprised when the NFL and NBC dumped an unattractive Bears-Seahawks game to reroute the Maddencruiser to Orchard Park for a Sunday Night Football prime-time matchup. Question was, would this be “Must-See TV,” or would viewers be changing the channel early in yet another New England blowout?

If they’d only known ...

After Laurence Maroney’s 6-yard run and a 43-yard pass from Tom Brady to Randy Moss gave the Patriots a quick 14-0 first-quarter lead, J.P. Losman responded by looking deep to Roscoe Parrish. As Pats cornerback Ellis Hobbs slipped while trying to adjust to the ball, Parrish made the catch and glided into the end zone, the 47-yard touchdown catch giving the Ralph Wilson Stadium crowd a glimmer of hope that their team might be able to make a game of it. But as the numbers continued to change on the visitors’ side of the scoreboard while the Bills couldn’t find their way back across the midfield stripe, it quickly became obvious that there would be no “fantastic finish” on this night. Brady connected with Moss for three more touchdowns before the first half ended, and with the score 35-7 at the break, some of the writers in the press box were already wrapping up their game stories.

The onslaught continued in the third quarter. Brady added his fifth touchdown pass of the night, on a fourth-and-1 throw to tight end Ben Watson that brought more than a few catcalls from Bills fans annoyed at the mounting score. Those fans weren’t much happier with their own team when Dick Jauron decided to send out Rian Lindell for a 52-yard field goal attempt while trailing 42-7. Up in the broadcast booth, John Madden tried to rationalize the move, saying, “Maybe Dick Jauron thinks a field goal would be a positive thing.” He didn’t sound convinced.

The Patriots converted another short fourth-down play at the Bills’ 10 late in the quarter, leading to a louder murmur from the few well-chilled diehards still left in the stands, while Madden and Al Michaels debated whether or not kicking the field goal would have been more insulting than going for it against a thoroughly demoralized Bills defense.

Kyle Eckel’s 1-yard run on the first play of the final period increased New England’s lead to 49-10. Less than a minute later, Patriots safety James Sanders punched the ball out of Dwayne Wright’s grasp, with Ellis Hobbs catching the ball on the fly and running it back 35 yards to make the score 56-10 – marking the worst loss in Bills history – and Madden was reduced to musing, “When it rains, it pours.”

Hey, at least it wasn’t a snow joke.

NOTES:

  • With Marshawn Lynch (ankle) sitting out this game, Anthony Thomas got the start and rushed for 31 yards on 11 carries, tying him with Losman (4-31) for the team lead ...
  • Losman had a rough day passing, completing 15 of 26 attempts for 173 yards. He threw one interception in addition to the touchdown pass to Parrish, and was sacked four times ...
  • Brady was an off-the-charts 31-for-39 for 373 yards and 5 touchdowns, good for a 146.1 passer rating. That is not a misprint. As previously noted, four of those touchdowns went to Randy Moss, who finished with 10 catches for 128 yards ...
  • New England controlled the ball and the clock, running 70 plays to the Bills’ 36 ...
  • The Bills dropped to 5-5, but maintained their hold on second place in the division ahead of the thoroughly awful Jets and Dolphins ...
  • The Patriots improved to 10-0, moving closer to clinching the AFC East before Thanksgiving, on their way to the first 16-0 regular season in NFL history. (Of course, we all know how that ended.)

    This recap originally appeared in the preview for the November 9, 2008 game.


Page 1 of 2 Next Page »


09/07 @ Chicago Bears 1:00 pm
09/14 Miami Dolphins 1:00 pm
09/21 San Diego Chargers 1:00 pm
09/28 @ Houston Texans 1:00 pm
10/05 @ Detroit Lions 1:00 pm
10/12 New England Patriots 1:00 pm
10/19 Minnesota Vikings 1:00 pm
10/26 @ New York Jets 1:00 pm
11/09 Kansas City Chiefs 1:00 pm
11/13 @ Miami Dolphins 8:25 pm
11/23 New York Jets 1:00 pm
11/30 Cleveland Browns 1:00 pm
12/07 @ Denver Broncos 4:05 pm
12/14 Green Bay Packers 1:00 pm
12/21 @ Oakland Raiders 4:25 pm
12/28 @ New England Patriots 1:00 pm

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