FOXBORO - It was a slow start for the heavily favored Patriots on Sunday. After taking advantage of a J.P. Losman fumble in Buffalo territory on the Bills' first possession, Stephen Gostkowski's put New England on top 3-0 with 24-yard field goal. It was the last time New England would lead until the 5-minute mark just before the half when New England took the lead for good.
The slow start for New England was surprising as they struggled to control the first half against a Buffalo team riddled with injuries; had it's starting quarterback knocked out on the fourth play of the game; and was led by a rookie quarterback who had never thrown an NFL pass. Buffalo's 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive led by 2007 third round draft pick Trent Edwards and rookie running back Marshawn Lynch served notice that New England's defense could be exploited. A turnover on downs in the first quarter showed that New England's offense could be controlled. At least, that's the way the game went early on. After Buffalo's touchdown, it became the Tom Brady and Randy Moss show for the third week in a row.
"Offensively we kind of sputtered around a little bit there," Said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick after the game. "But then we started scoring some points in that second and third quarter."
New England snapped out of its funk in the second quarter. Although Tom Brady fumbled to snuff out a promising 9-play, 71-yard drive, New England's defense stuffed the Bills three plays in a row to force Buffalo to punt from their own end zone.
Brady led the Patriots back down the field after getting the ball back in Buffalo territory, thanks to Wes Welker's 29-yard punt return. Sammy Morris carried 4 of the 6 plays gaining 28 yards on the ground. Brady capped the drive off by tossing the first of his four touchdowns on the day to tight end Ben Watson to put New England on top 10-7.
Morris understood that the slow start was uncharacteristic of the team's play this season, but he wasn't worried.
"We didn't feel like there was a reason to be flustered and abandon our game plan," Morris said. "We just had to minimize the mistakes we were making and just flat out play better."
The Patriots defense turned up the heat on Buffalo on the next possession to force a three-and-out. Patriots' linebacker Junior Seau noted it was the Patriots' lack of focus which led to the early struggles, and noted that the team was able to get into a rhythm once they settled down.
"There is nothing to say, they went in there and jumped on us early and we didn't meet their intensity," Seau said." Obviously, that was taken care of after the second quarter and we went on to do what we had to do."
Brady was able to find Randy Moss on a short slant route in the end zone to put New England up 17-7 at the half. It was Moss' fourth game against the Bills, and his fourth touchdown in as many games.
Brady finished the day with 23 completions in 29 attempts for 311 yards. Yet despite his success, Brady praised the Buffalo defense for shutting dfown the Patriots early in the game.
"I think its a good defense, and I think they did some things," said Brady. "They're a very fast, physical defense and they have some play-makers over there with Aaron Schobel. I think they played very hard. I think we just capitalized when we had the opportunities."
Although the Patriots scored 38 points for the third consecutive week, Brady felt that there was room to get better with the offense.
"There's things that we definitely need to improve on and I'm glad we won, but we have a big week this week."
Moss managed to turn in another 100-yard outing (115 yards), the 49th of his career. Moss became the first player in NFL history to start his first three games with a new team and manage three consecutive 100-yard outings.
Laurence Maroney was able to break out of his early season funk, by turning in a 103-yard performance in 19 carries for a 5.2 ypc average. It was Maroney's first 100-yard game of the year and the second of his career. The last time was against the Bengals in October 2006.
With the 38-7 win over Buffalo, New England improves to 3-0 while Buffalo drops to 0-3. The Patriots travel to Cincinnati to play the (1-2) Bengals on Monday night football next week. The Bills return to Orchard Park to host the (1-2) New York Jets.
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