Here are some observations from the Bills radio booth in New England:
Ryan Fitzpatrickplayed his best game of the season, even with the interception that ended Buffalo’s chances. Fitz was decisive and active in the pocket. He took advantage of some good pass protection, in the second half especially, to scan the field and identify the open receiver. We’ve pointed out before, Fitzpatrick thrives if he can throw the ball over the middle, and he did so successfully on several passes to tight end Scott Chandler.
Fitzpatrick showed fire and passion when he challenged Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes for his hit to the head. It’s the kind of emotion that his teammates respond to on a daily basis.
As for the Devin McCourty interception that snuffed out Buffalo’s last minute scoring drive, Fitzpatrick accepted his share of the criticism for the pass. But rookie WR
I find it tough to find fault with Fitzpatrick’s decision to throw it to Graham. He was open. He was in the end zone, so that the Bills wouldn’t have to hurry to the line of scrimmage to run another play with a pass completed before the end zone. Fitzpatrick had success throwing between the safeties in New England’s cover-two look all day long. And, of course, Graham was just one of several options Fitzpatrick had to choose from.
- Buffalo’s first scoring drive provided a perfect illustration of how
C.J. Spillerand Fred Jacksoncan work together to provide an almost unstoppable ground game. Late in the first quarter, Jackson caught a middle screen on 3rd-and-15 from the Bills own 15-yard line, and turned it into a 15-yard pickup for a first down. Jackson was hit at the 23-yard line, and he was eventually surrounded by three Patriots all trying to drag him down. Jackson kept chugging away, picking up eight yards after the contact, and keeping the drive alive with a first down.
On the next play, Spiller carried the ball to the left, and ran into a Patriots pileup at the point of attack. He made his signature move, bouncing the run to the right, putting tremendous fakes on Rob Ninkovich and Alfonzo Dennard, and picking up seven yards.
Spiller and Jackson are probably the best one-two punch in the league right now. With Jackson’s status in question for the Miami game, Spiller is almost certain to get the kind of workload many fans have been clamoring for. But don’t discount Fred Jackson’s contributions to the Bills running attack (ranked 6th in the NFL) and the benefit the Bills get from being able to have them spelling each other in the backfield.
- Much has been said about the 14-penalties the Bills recorded in the loss at Foxboro. They almost tripled their average penalty count for games this season. But of the 14 penalties, only three of them seemed to be truly bad calls.
The first occurred in the first quarter, when
The second quarter pass interference call on
Later, on the same drive, the officials flagged
The New England touchdown drive was 82-yards, 69-of which came on poorly called penalties.
The Bills didn’t lose because of bad officiating, but it didn’t help at all.