NBC, in the first week of the NFL's flex scheduling, moved the Bills/Patriots tilt to prime time not just because the Patriots are a historically dominant team, but because the bigwigs thought that the scrappy Bills could give them an entertaining game in front of a home crowd.
How wrong they were.
The Bills were delayed in getting out of the tunnel for introductions; perhaps they should have stayed in the locker room, because the 56-10 drubbing that the team endured once they did take the field could potentially be a loss that derails what once was a promising season. Behind a porous defense and an offense that isn't built for games like this, this Bills team - scrappy or not - didn't have enough to keep the game interesting for even a quarter.
Boy, Did We Miss Marshawn
Minus their catalyst, rookie RB Marshawn Lynch, Buffalo's offense struggled to make plays to keep the team alive early in the contest. Outside of Buffalo's lone touchdown, a 47-yard strike from J.P. Losman to Roscoe Parrish, the team was unable to do much of anything against a pressure-happy Patriots defense. The team managed just 229 yards and were once again dominated in time of possession, holding onto the ball for just 25 minutes. J.P. Losman finished the contest with 173 passing yards, the touchdown, an interception, and was also the team's leading rusher with 31 yards on four carries. Losman made a few plays here and there, but without Lynch, the Bills were too one-dimensional for Losman to have much of an impact.
The struggles of Buffalo's offense over the last two weeks (23 combined points against the Dolphins and Patriots) has re-opened up the quarterback debate in Buffalo - even if Losman was one of the few playmakers for the Bills in tonight's contest. Make no mistake: the QB controversy will likely rage on more than ever this week; that's reflected in the poll at the top right of this page. Make sure to vote - we'll be discussing quarterbacks more as the week goes on.
Defense Has No Answers for Brady, Moss
And here I was worried about Wes Welker (7 catches, 78 yards). Randy Moss has had a fantastic NFL career - and tonight, he had his best game as a professional, tallying 10 catches for 128 yards and four touchdowns, all scores that came in the first half. Memo to Perry Fewell: next year, when your Bills play the Patriots, #81 is the guy you should stop first.
This Bills defense carried Buffalo through a four-game win streak, but they were also the reason the Bills lost tonight. New England scored touchdowns on seven of eight possessions, Tom Brady completed nearly 80% of his passes for 373 yards and five scores, and the defense didn't make any plays to counter the explosive production of the Patriots. Hell, even the Patriots' fullbacks had a field day in this one - Heath Evans and Kyle Eckel combined for 96 yards on 20 carries and a score. All in all, Buffalo's defense was just overwhelmed by a Patriots attack that has weapons throughout their entire roster. This unit will be looking to rebound in Jacksonville - but again, we'll discuss that as the week goes on.
Rumblings Game Balls
Only because I have to.
WR Roscoe Parrish: The one Bill to make a difference-making play tonight, Roscoe's 47-yard touchdown was one of the few moments where Bills fans could cheer.
LB John DiGiorgio: Hey, he had 11 tackles. He was just as bad as every other defender that got torched tonight, but somebody needed to fill this slot.
TE Kevin Everett: The lone bright spot for the Bills organization tonight. Not only did Everett send a message to the home crowd prior to kickoff (the lone electrifying moment amongst the crowd tonight), but he's also out of the hospital. His rehab will continue, but Kevin's story just keeps getting better and better.