Well, that was typical.
Trailing 17-10 in the fourth quarter after Lee Evans caught his first career touchdown pass against the New England Patriots, the Buffalo Bills recovered an onside kick with three minutes remaining. The potential game-changing play was negated, however, by the fact that rookie defensive end Aaron Maybin crossed the 30-yard line prior to the ball being kicked. Offsides; no play; ball goes back to New England.
But that's not the end of the world - not when the Bills' defense has completely shut down the Patriots for the entire second half, holding them to three points in just under two quarters. On a third down, Tom Brady his Wes Welker for a first down - the Pats' only first down of the final quarter. Game, set, match.
The loss is Buffalo's thirteenth straight against Bill Belichick and the Patriots. It came in a pretty unique way; Ryan Fitzpatrick was benched, then Trent Edwards hurt his ankle and carted off the field, so Fitzpatrick came back in and hurt his own ankle, and then gave the Bills at least some semblance of a chance at winning the game late in regulation with his touchdown pass. Buffalo lost linebacker Bryan Scott late, too, as he joined Edwards as Bills carted off the field of play.
Buffalo lost this game well before Maybin's miscue, commiting 11 penalties for 124 yards and giving up six sacks on Fitzpatrick and Edwards. That's 165 free yards for a New England club that only gained 224 yards offensively - Buffalo actually out-gained the Patriots offensively, if you'll believe it, gaining 241 yards themselves. Penalties - the most critical of which were defensive holding or pass interference calls - absolutely killed the Bills in this game, particularly in the first half.
The loss overshadows strong individual efforts from Fred Jackson (80 rushing yards, 32 receiving yards, 108 return yards), Paul Posluszny (9 tackles, INT) and others. Buffalo held Brady in check; Brady completed just 11 of 23 passes for 115 yards, with one TD and the Posluszny interception. Despite the solid defensive effort, the team couldn't muster enough offensively to pull off the upset.
Buffalo is now 5-9 on the season, including a 2-3 record under interim head coach Perry Fewell. The team has officially been eliminated from playoff contention. Next week, they travel to Atlanta to take on a Falcons team that pulled off a last-minute win over the New York Jets on Sunday, evening their record at 7-7.