FOXBOROUGH -- Despite a leaky defense and a penalty-riddled opponent, the Patriots found themselves on what appeared to be the throes of a game-winning Buffalo Bills drive.
That’s until Devin McCourty stepped up and intercepted a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass with 23 seconds left in the game, as the Patriots held on for a 37-31 win over their AFC East opponent.
Fitzpatrick passed for 340 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots. His team was hindered by 14 penalties for 148 yards.
The Patriots run defense wasn’t much better, giving up a season-high 162 yards in the win, with McCourty’s interception as the only gauze available for the bleeding.
Tom Brady was 23 of 38 for 237 yards and two touchdowns in the game as the Patriots moved on to 6-3 on the year and 2-0 against Buffalo.
FINAL: Patriots 27, Bills 31 -- Devin McCourty intercepted a pass intended for Bill receiver T.J. Graham in the end zone with 23 seconds left in the game to help the Patriots seal the win.
2:06 4th quarter: Patriots 37, Bills 24 -- On a third-and-goal at the Buffalo 9-yard line, feeling pressure, Tom Brady couldn’t connect with Danny Woodhead in the flat. That led to a 27-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski to extend the Patriots’ lead to six points. The Patriots’ 14-play, 59-yard drive that spanned 5:41 gives the Bills a little more than two minutes to come up with a possible game-winning drive.
7:47 4th quarter: Patriots 34, Bills 24 -- Ryan Fitzpatrick fired a pass over the middle of the field for a 2-yard touchdown pass to Donald Jones. It was a quick drive for the Bills against the Patriots, going 45 yards on five plays in 1:29, putting the Patriots in a score-or-risk-losing-the-lead situation. The Bills have scored on two of their last three drives. The Patriots have given up a season-high 161 yards rushing.
9:16 4th quarter: Patriots 34, Bills 24 -- The Patriots went three-and-out after the turnover. Wes Welker dropped a pass from Tom Brady on second down.
9:35 4th quarter: Patriots 34, Bills 24 -- Devin McCourty forced a Fred Jackson at the 1-yard line as the Patriots came up with a critical turnover. The play was initially ruled as down on contact, but after review it was reversed.
14:10 4th quarter: Patriots 34, Bills 24 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 48-yard field goal as the Patriots went up by 10 against the Bills. It was a seven-play, 50-yard drive that spanned 2:27. On 3rd-and-8, Tom Brady connected with Brandon Lloyd on a 6-yard pass.
End of the 3d quarter: Patriots 31, Bills 24 -- The third quarter comes to a close with the Patriots in a pivotal stretch to keep the Bills at a distance.
1:37 3d quarter: Patriots 31, Bills 24 -- The Bills are trying to stick around. Fred Jackson ran in a 1-yard touchdown, capitalizing on an 11-play, 84-yard drive in which the team converted on a 4th-and-4 to keep the drive alive. Ryan Fitzpatrick completed three passes to Stevie Johnson on the drive, totaling 44 yards. Fitzpatrick found Donald Jones for a 6-yard pass to get the Bills down to the 1-yard line. Two plays later, Jackson ran it in.
7:06 3d quarter: Patriots 31, Bills 17 -- Tom Brady escaped the Bills pass rush and dumped off a pass to Danny Woodhead, who scampered 18 yards for a touchdown. The play was reviewed and upheld, showing Woodhead had just crossed the goal line by a whisker. It was a quick, four-play drive that lasted 1:38. This is the first time Woodhead has scored more than one touchdown in an NFL game.
8:44 3d quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 17 -- Jermaine Cunningham came up with another huge sack, as the Patriots forced the Bills to punt after four plays. Dan Connolly has a back injury. He was was announced as questionable to return. The Patriots have subbed in Donald Thomas and Nick McDonald in place of Connolly and Logan Mankins.
10:53 3d quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 17 -- Tom Brady was sacked on a 3rd-and-5 by the Bills’ Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, forcing the Patriots to punt on their opening drive of the third quarter. On the same play, Logan Mankins appeared to be shaken up. He walked off the field gingerly with the help of the team’s trainers.
15:00 3d quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 17 -- Second half is underway.
End of the 2d quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 17 -- The first half comes to a close with the Patriots allowing the Bills to scratch their way back into the game.
It’s not like the Patriots haven’t been getting any help, especially with the number of penalties the Bills have racked up. The Bills have been flagged 10 times for 119 yards, a mesmerizing display of ineffectiveness. Meanwhile, the Bills have rushed for 88 yards in the first half alone. The Patriots have held opponents to 88.6 rushing yards coming into today’s game.
Tom Brady is 11 of 17 for 114 yards and a touchdown while Stevan Ridley has rushed 10 times for 22 yards and a score. Danny Woodhead ripped off a 15-yard run for the Patriots. Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the Bills with 13 of 17 passing for 153 yards and a touchdown.
0:31 2d quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 17 -- Ryan Fitzpatrick connected with a wide open Scott Chandler as the Buffalo Bills closed the gap to seven points with less than a minute to go in the first half. The Bills drove 80 yards on 11 plays, with Fitzpatrick making key throws to Chandler and Donald Jones to get into the red zone. Patriots corner Alfonzo Dennard was flagged for unnecessary roughness for hitting Fitzpatrick as he was scrambling to the sideline.
3:54 2d quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 10 -- The Patriots benefited greatly from three more penalties by the Bills, including a dumbfounding pass interference call on a Tom Brady pass that sailed past the end zone. Two plays later, Brady hit a diving Rob Gronkowski for a 2-yard touchdown. The Bills’ three penalties cost them 67 yards. The pass interference, which was called on Stephon Gilmore who was guarding Brandon Lloyd, was for 37 yards.
6:03 2d quarter: Patriots 17, Bills 10 -- Bills running back Fred Jackson bounced off three Patriots defenders en route to a 14-yard touchdown run.
The Bills took only six plays to march 80 yards and make it a one score game. Ryan Fitzpatrick connected with tight end Scott Chandler on two passes for 23 and 17 yards while C.J. Spiller had three rushes for 26 yards.
9:09 2d quarter: Patriots 17, Bills 3 -- The Patriots are moving fast and their torrid pace is starting to affect the Bills defense. Danny Woodhead ripped off a 15-yard touchdown run practically untouched after the Bills were slow to set up on defense. The Patriots went 83 yards on eight plays in 2:58 seconds.
12:07 2d quarter: Patriots 10, Bills 3 -- Rob Ninkovich sacked QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, finishing him off after being hurried by Chandler Jones on third down, as the Patriots held the Bills to a 41-yard field goal by Ryan Lindell.
It was an 11-play, 57-yard drive by the Bills, their first sustained attack of the game.
A couple of defensive notes for the Patriots: It looks like rookie safety Tavon Wilson has fallen out of favor. Devin McCourty is at safety with Steve Gregory, with Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington at the cornerbacks. Marquice Cole is the third cornerback off the sidelines for nickel and dime packages. It’s looking harder and harder for Wilson to get on the field as Patriots become healthy.
Also, Jermaine Cunningham has found himself become a huge part of the rotation. He drew a holding penalty against the Bills in the red zone.
End of the 1st quarter: Patriots 10, Bills 0 -- The Bills have finally gotten over their penalty bug. They’ve put together their first potential scoring drive as Ryan Fitzpatrick has completed a 22-yard pass to Donald Jones and a 15-yarder to Fred Jackson.
Patriots DL Justin Francis has gotten his first significant play, getting a hit on Fitzpatrick. Also, Devin McCourty appears to be playing safety over rookie Tavon Wilson. Alfonzo Dennard has taken his snaps at cornerback.
3:54 1st quarter: Patriots 10, Bills 0 -- Two pass interference calls on the Bills’ George Wilson following the fumble recovery for the Patriots allowed Stevan Ridley to get two chances from the 1-yard line. He punched it in on the second try as the Patriots scored their first touchdown of the game. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe got in on his first play for the Patriots, playing in the goal line package.
5:24 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Bills 0 -- Vince Wilfork sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick, forcing the Bills quarterback to fumble. Jermaine Cunningham recovered as the Patriots took over on the Bills’ 13-yard line.
6:04 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Bills 0 -- Wes Welker dropped a potential touchdown and the Patriots ended up settling for a 43-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski to get on the board first.
It was a quick first drive for the Patriots, going 48 yards on 13 plays in 4:27. But the drive was marked by two drops, Welker’s and another by Deion Branch that could have been an interception had it not been dropped by the Bills’ Leodis McKelvin.
10:31 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Bills 0 -- The Bills start off by shooting themselves in the foot. A quick first down, followed up by getting to a 3rd-and-1 and then the wheels fell off. They committed three straight penalties to push them back to a 3rd-and-21. The Patriots’ first defensive series is a success, forcing the punt.
15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Bills 0 -- The Patriots won the toss and deferred till the second half. Buffalo will receive the opening kick. Game on!
Pregame: The Patriots and Bills have a beautiful day for football upon them. It’s sunny, 60 degrees out, with winds south and southwest at 12 miles per hour.