It's often hard enough to deal with the New England Patriots knowing Tom Brady is their trigger man on offense. Buffalo's players were supremely motivated to get a win in their Week 2 division matchup with the defending Super Bowl champions. By their own admission they may have been too emotionally driven on Sunday.
The Bills committed 14 penalties for an eye-opening 140 yards in their 40-32 loss to New England Sunday and the players and Buffalo's head coach admitted their emotions negatively impacted their play.
"Sometimes it's an emotional game and you should play with emotion, but sometimes you let your emotions get the better of you and it went to our detriment," said Rex Ryan. "It starts with me. I obviously have to control my emotions a little better with regard to how things are going."
"We came out too fired up, I believe, and that's what caused the penalties," said Nigel Bradham. "We had way too many penalties. We had 14-penalties and we lost by eight points. We were giving them field position early in the game. They scored a quick 21 and that was pretty much from the plus-50, with one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Even in that situation, it's going to make it hard on you."
The infractions began on special teams with an illegal block, an offensive holding and a delay of game all in the first quarter. It was quickly followed by a pair of personal foul penalties on a punt, one of which was accepted with the other declined. A short time later a taunting penalty was assessed right after New England's second touchdown.
Even after the Bills recovered a fumble and Corey Graham returned it 29 yards to the New England 33, an unnecessary roughness penalty moved Buffalo's drive start back to midfield. Buffalo went three and out and was forced to punt. An illegal formation and a defensive holding call made it eight penalties for 74 yards in the first half.
"Certain guys and penalties were getting called, certain guys don't like it and I'm pretty sure the fans didn't like it either, and the fans were getting involved and the players were getting involved," said Sammy Watkins. "I think that's one thing that we've got to manage, our emotion and passion for the game. We've got to let the ref do their job and keep playing."
The players and coaches talked at halftime about just playing the game and letting the officials make the calls in the second half, but on Buffalo's first possession of the second half there were three more penalties. There was an offensive pass interference call, unsportsmanlike conduct on the Bills' bench and a holding call.
Ryan believes he was responsible for drawing the flag for the Bills' bench.
"That was mine," said Ryan.
Veteran DT Kyle Williams, a multi-year captain for the team, was disappointed by all the infractions that had nothing to do with player effort on the field.
"There's a difference between coming out ready, ready to go, fired up ready to play and coming out and being totally without poise and without focus," said Williams. "If you have no poise and no focus, you get caught up in all of the B-S, and that's what they do. It plays right into their hands."
Fixing their emotional barometer will be job one this week before another important divisional game against the Dolphins Sunday in Miami.
"The lesson learned is that when you're playing a division opponent and you want to win the football game, you can't go backwards 100 yards and win the football game. That's football 101," said Jerry Hughes. "We know that, and we have to be a lot smarter. We can't play with too much emotion. Now we have to come out and learn from this."
Photos of the action from Week 2's Bills vs. Patriots game at Ralph Wilson Stadium.