For a few minutes Sunday, you couldn’t help but believe the Bills really were a different team under Rex Ryan. They beefed up their roster. They adjusted their attitudes. It was easy to embrace the notion they were could challenge the toughest kids on the block and shift the balance in the AFC East.
But it was only a few minutes.
To be exact, it was five minutes.
The Bills played their most anticipated game since the 2004 finale against Pittsburgh, but the atmosphere was nothing new to the Patriots. New England has played dozens of games that were bigger than the one Sunday. And when the game was on the line, they dispatched the Bills in familiar fashion with a 40-32 victory.
Any suggestion that Ryan had Brady’s number was nonsense. Brady has won 10 times in 14 games against Ryan-coached teams, including eight of the past nine. He threw for 466 yards, the most ever by any quarterback against Buffalo, and three touchdowns. At age 38, he has shown no signs of slowing down.
Once again, New England confirmed it remains the best team in the NFL. If anything, they’ve become more defiant since Tom Brady was caught up in DeflateGate. There was a sense during the win Sunday that they’re not content with simply beating their opponents. They want to bury everybody.
The Bills invited the crowd back into the game with three touchdowns in the fourth quarter while the Pats played soft coverages. But there was never a sense New England was losing control. Brady did what he often does. He led the Pats to a field goal and helped preserve the win.
Buffalo had too many breakdowns, too many meltdowns and not enough touchdowns against the defending Super Bowl champs. The Bills aren’t going to beat the Patriots when they lack discipline and perform the way they did Sunday.
The Bills marched down the field for a touchdown on their first possession and figured to give the Pats all they could handle. As the game carried along, it became more evident why one team has won four Super Bowls while the other has missed the playoffs for 15 straight seasons.
Brady performed surgery on the Bills’ defense while improving his record to 24-3 against Buffalo. Rob Gronkowski caught seven passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.
The Bills took dumb penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct, which made them look like immature children who couldn’t control their emotions and needed to be reprimanded. They overreacted. They threw tantrums. Aaron Williams was guilty before he suffered a neck injury. Rex Ryan was guilty.
Buffalo took three penalties on one onside kick, which sounded like an achievement.
Brady once again showed how to quiet a crowd. He had some help – some from the Bills – but he flipped a seven-point deficit into a 14-point lead with three straight scoring drives. It was flashback to 2012, when the Pats were down, 21-7, and scored five straight TDs in a blowout win.
The Bills took eight penalties in the first half alone. Taylor, who was mistake-free in the opener, threw three interceptions and looked out of sorts for much of the game. Brady exploited mismatches against the Bills’ defense, which has been hailed as one of the best units in the league.
Brady was Brady. The Patriots were the Patriots. And the Bills were the Bills no matter the player or the coach.