Bills will be tested against Patriots

Rob Gronkowski

The Patriots are coming to Buffalo with their top ranked offense. But the Bills are flying high on offense too. Buffalo will get yet another test of their defense on Sunday. Will they be able to weather the storm?

   In defeating the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders, the Bills have lit up the scoreboard for 79 points. That's the second most points through two games in club history, topped only by 87 by Buffalo's 1991 Super Bowl team.

   But while last Sunday's come-from-beyond 38-35 victory over the Raiders was coined a "gut check" by coach Chan Gailey, will this week's showdown against New England be a "reality check?" Buffalo has lost 15 consecutive games to its chief AFC East Division nemesis.

   Both team enter the game 2-0.

   "This is a very different team," Bills veteran safety Bryan Scott said. "We said that during training camp when we came together. Why can't we be the ones to turn this franchise around?"

   For the Bills, who have missed the playoffs 11 consecutive years, turning skeptics into true believes means beating the Patriots and Tom Brady.

   While Buffalo's offense, led by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, had the patience and poise to put together five consecutive touchdown drives in the second half to rally from a 21-3 deficit and defeat the Raiders, the team's defense has work to do.

   Oakland was missing its top three receivers yet quarterback Jason Campbell managed to torch Buffalo's secondary for 323 yards and two scores. The Raiders averaged 4.4 yards per carry and at one stretch scored five touchdowns in seven possessions.

   What's Brady capable of? He's thrown for 940 yards and seven touchdowns in New England's 2-0 start.

   "We'll take them how we get them," Bills linebacker Nick Barnett said, not apologizing for Buffalo's offense needing to rescue the defense against Oakland. "We'll clean that stuff up and we might have to win some games 13-10. It's a three-phase game and we've got to clean things up but overall I'm happy we won, what can I say?"

   Fitzpatrick is certainly playing well enough to give Buffalo a chance if the Patriots' game deteriorates into a shootout like the Raiders game.

   He's thrown seven touchdown passes against just one interception so far and Sunday led three 80-yard touchdown drives, including the game-winning drive in the final minutes. He capped that with his third touchdown pass, this one six yards on fourth down to a wide-open David Nelson, who caught five of his 10 passes on the winning drive.

   The Bills have opened contract talks with Fitzpatrick about a rich extension and this is why.

   "The guy knows how to win," Gailey said. "I like that."

   Said Fitzpatrick: "This is a big win for our football team. We talked about this last week, being a young team, wins are so important for the confidence of our guys. Chan said it after the game, '2-0 feels good but 2-0 feels right' after all the work we've put in. With what we feel we have in this locker room, yes, 2-0 feels right."

   A win over New England would confirm if that feeling is right - or wrong.

Injury leads to change at right guard

   LINEUP WATCH: Chad Rinehart replaced an injured Kraig Urbik at right guard and will likely start against the Patriots. Urbik injured a knee and coach Gailey said he would miss a "few weeks."

   BY THE NUMBERS: In addition to losing 15 straight games to the Patriots, the Bills have also lost 20 of the last 21 games in the series.\

PLAYER NOTES
   --WR Roscoe Parrish suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter against Oakland and did not return. The often-injured veteran will be re-evaluated Monday but it appears he could miss a stretch of playing time.
   --RG Kraig Urbik went down with a knee injury against Oakland and could miss several weeks. Urbik was settling into the starting right guard position. He was replaced by Chad Rinehart against the Raiders. Rinehart is expected to start next week's game against New England.
   --RB Fred Jackson finished with 117 yards rushing against Oakland, including a 43-yard touchdown run to match the longest of his career. It's the first time since 1991 the Bills have had a running back open the season with consecutive 100-yard games.
   --WR David Nelson, a second-year pro out of Florida, caught a career-best 10 passes for 83 yards and the winning touchdown in Sunday's 38-35 comeback victory over Oakland. The 6-5 Nelson took over the game down the stretch, catching half his passes on Buffalo's winning 14-play drive in the final minutes.
   --QB Ryan Fitzpatrick's three touchdown passes against the Raiders gave him seven through two games. That's the most by a Buffalo quarterback to open a season since Jim Kelly had eight in 1991.

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