ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Drayton Florence #29 of the Buffalo Bills returns a interception for a 27 yard touchdown against Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo won 34-31. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
The 2011 Buffalo Bills will be remembered as a team that had a hot start and completely collapsed in the second half of the year to miss the playoffs. They will also be remembered as the team that mercifully overcame Tom Brady and Bill Belichick to end a 15-game losing streak to the New England Patriots.
When Buffalo fell down 21-0 in the second quarter of the Week 3 contest, many Bills fans were of the "here we go again" mindset. Who can blame them? (Take a look at our game thread to see where Bills fans were headed.) But a Stevie Johnson touchdown catch and Rian Lindell field goal, aided by a huge Bryan Scott interception deep in Bills territory, clawed Buffalo back to 21-10 at the half.
After the half, Scott Chandler caught a touchdown pass and the Bills defense held the Patriots to a field goal in the red zone during the third quarter. The stage was set for Buffalo's second straight fourth-quarter comeback in two weeks. A Fred Jackson touchdown run evened the score at 24.
On the next series, the Ralph lit up when Drayton Florence took another Tom Brady interception, one of four on the day for the future Hall of Famer, back for a touchdown to give Buffalo the 31-24 lead. The image would grace that week's regional cover of Sports Illustrated putting a current member of the Bills front and center for the first time since 2003. Ironically, that cover shot of Sam Adams also came on an interception return touchdown against Tom Brady and the Patriots.
The Patriots were able to tie the score back up later in the fourth quarter but a long Fred Jackson run to the Patriots one yard line allowed the Bills to run out the clock and kick the game-winning field goal as time expired, ending eight years of fan frustration.
While the Bills toyed with our emotions this season, they got one monkey off their back in 2011.