|Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick played well against the Patriots, but he wasn’t good enough to lead Buffalo to a win on Sunday. (US Presswire)|
The Buffalo Bills scratched and clawed their way back from a 17-3 deficit against the New England Patriots, desperately hoping to save their season. But Ryan Fitzpatrick’s late touchdown attempt was intercepted by Patriots CB Devin McCourty -- due to a mistake from rookie WR T.J. Graham -- and the Bills fell to 3-6 with Sunday’s 37-31 defeat.
It was a gutsy effort overall from Buffalo’s offense. The Bills put up 31 points on the road largely due to Fitzpatrick’s inspired effort under center. Fitzpatrick (27 of 40, 337 yards, 2 TDs, INT) was more aggressive with his throws downfield and was confident in the pocket. The success in the passing game led to a franchise-record 35 first downs. RBs Fred Jackson (80 yards, 2 TDs on 16 carries) and C.J. Spiller (70 yards on nine carries) both impressed, and the Bills could’ve stuck with the run game a bit more. There were only two negatives on offense, but they were big ones -- Jackson had a fumble at the Patriots' goal line, and Graham made the wrong cut on Fitzpatrick’s interception. Those plays proved to be fatal. Previous game’s grade: C-
It sounds like a broken record, but Buffalo’s defense continues to give up yards and points at will. The Bills surrendered 37 points and 347 yards of total offense to the Patriots. QB Tom Brady (23 of 38, 237 yards, 2 TDs) was largely untouched in the pocket, except for some pressures from DT Kyle Williams. The defense made some key stops late and was better against the run (117 yards against). In Week 4 against New England, the Bills were lit up in the run game (247 yards). Buffalo still needs more from DE Mario Williams (3 tackles, no sacks). Previous game’s grade: C-
Special teams: C-
There weren’t many big plays on special teams for either team. P Shawn Powell had a net average of 45 yards on two punts, and Rian Lindell booted his only attempt through the uprights. The Bills had one major penalty on special teams when rookie CB Ron Brooks was flagged 15 yards for running downfield while out of bounds in punt coverage, which former Bills great Steve Tasker famously did during his playing days. The Patriots scored four plays after Brooks’ penalty. Previous game’s grade: B+
Not many predicted the Bills to hang with the Patriots, yet they were right there with them up until the very end. Buffalo’s coaching staff deserves credit. Spiller still deserves more touches with his gaudy production -- he almost always seems to make something out of nothing, averaging 7.8 yards per rush and 15.3 yards per catch against New England. The defense remains abysmal, but Chan Gailey and his staff had the Bills ready to play. Previous game’s grade: D
For more updates on the Bills, follow correspondent Mark Ludwiczak on Twitter @CBSBills and @MarkLud12.