fb-pixelPatriots defense (8 sacks) was on the prowl - The Boston Globe Skip to main content

Patriots defense (8 sacks) was on the prowl

Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan (26) finished off the Bills with an interception that sealed the victory. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Rex Ryan started the hype. Logan Ryan finished the game.

As is often the case, the bombastic Bills coach made the most headlines — and the most outlandish comments — in the week leading up to a game against the Patriots. And, as is often the case, a more humble Ryan appeared postgame to explain what went wrong.

“First off this loss is squarely on one man’s shoulders,’’ Ryan said after New England’s 40-32 victory Sunday was sealed by Logan Ryan’s interception — the Patriots’ third of the day. “You know, we gotta get better as a team, there’s no question. But I have to get better.’’

Advertisement



Ryan had boasted of his impressive defense, but it was New England’s unit that made most of the plays. In particular, linebackers Jamie Collins (8 tackles, 2½ sacks) and Dont’a Hightower (8 tackles, ½-sack) and defensive end Chandler Jones (5 tackles, 3 sacks) were flying around and jolting everything in sight all afternoon.

Early on it looked as if Ryan had done a successful job in firing up his Bills, who came out and methodically drove the ball down the Patriots’ throats with an impressive 10-play, 80-yard march that whipped an already raucous Ralph Wilson Stadium crowd into a frenzy.

It would not be a harbinger for the home team. The Bills next five drives ended in futility as the Patriots raced to 21-7 lead and constantly harassed quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who was sacked eight times for 53 yards.

“That was their script, they worked on those 10 plays or 15 plays all week long and they were going to run those to start their drive,’’ said Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich, who ended Buffalo’s second drive with a sack of Taylor. “Defensively we need to do a better job of understanding that’s what they’re going to do and stop those plays. Once they got through that script, they settled down a little bit and, for the most part, we did a good job.’’

Advertisement



Defensive end Jabaal Sheard had a simpler explanation.

“We just woke up and started playing, man,’’ said Sheard. “We started doing our job.’’

Patriots coach Bill Belichick was impressed with his team’s ability to bounce back after Buffalo’s opening salvo.

“I thought after that first drive our team showed a lot of mental toughness and resiliency to come back in a pretty hostile atmosphere [and] to take the lead and play from ahead most of the game,’’ said Belichick.

Taylor acknowledged the Patriots came out looking like a different team after the opening minutes and lamented the fact his team couldn’t adjust earlier.

“They changed up some of their scheming, but for the most part it was a lot of things we had seen on film,’’ he said. “The execution just wasn’t as good as we wanted it to be early on in the game.’’

Until the frenetic ending when the Bills scored 19 fourth-quarter points to pull within 37-32, the Patriots were dominant. In fact, one Bills offensive lineman was of the opinion that the Patriots weren’t doing anything exotic or revolutionary, they were just winning all the one-on-one battles. It was an opinion shared by New England tackle Alan Branch.

“I think everybody just looked deep within themselves and knuckled up and started playing some ball,’’ said Branch, who collected a sack and a forced fumble and acknowledged things did get “a little bit crazy’’ at the end.

Advertisement



The craziness included a pair of Taylor touchdown passes sandwiched between a Taylor touchdown run. It turned a blowout into a nail-biter — and there must have been plenty of Bills fans weaving their way through the surrounding neighborhoods who were kicking themselves for leaving after the visitors took a 37-13 lead after three quarters.

While Patriots safety Devin McCourty acknowledged “a win is the end goal,’’ Ninkovich knows that getting into the habit of not closing games will eventually come back to haunt you.

“Toward the end of the game, I think we started to get a little too aggressive and we opened up some dip-in, dip-out lanes for the quarterback to scramble and make big plays down the field,’’ said Ninkovich. “There were some plays where we should have done some scheme things better and we should have been able to adjust better than we did on the fly . . . so we have to continue to work hard and get better on some of the plays that hurt us.’’


Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.