NEPD Staff Writer: Oliver Thomas
The New England Patriots squeaked out a 23-21 win over the Buffalo Bills in the regular-season opener Sunday afternoon. But for the better part of four quarters inside Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Bills offense looked like the more dependable one.
New England’s new-look attack was sent sputtering from three unsuccessful red-zone drives, multiple missed blocking assignments from the offensive line, fumbles from running back Stevan Ridley and quarterback Tom Brady, a bobbled catch-turned-interception from tight end Zach Sudfeld, and just four receptions on 14 targets from wideout Kenbrell Thompkins.
Yet down just one with 4:31 left in the final frame, the Patriots defense forced a three-and-out, which afforded Brady and Co. one last opportunity to win the game. And 48 yards later, a 35-yard field goal from kicker Stephen Gostkowski did just that.
New England’s 12-play final drive was more than a display of cohesion, though; it was a display of trust between Brady, tailback Shane Vereen and wide receiver Danny Amendola.
As the Patriots maneuvered through the Bills defense with only minutes remaining, Vereen totaled 31 yards on five touches, while Brady kneeled twice for a loss of three yards.
Although when the Patriots needed to move the sticks in the underneath, it was Amendola who was called upon.