Can The Bills Handle Success?

Head Coach Chan Gailey questioned whether his team had the mental toughness to keep coming from behind. After Sunday's win over New England, he's now questioning if they can handle their newfound success.

 Here's a problem nobody expected coach Chan Gailey to be dealing with: prosperity.

   Yes, the Buffalo Bills - who haven't been to the playoffs in 11 seasons - are the buzz of the NFL sitting atop the AFC East with a 3-0 record.

   Buffalo snapped a 15-game losing streak last Sunday against New England (2-1), rallying from 21 points behind to score a 34-31 victory on Rian Lindell's chip-shot field goal as time expired.

   Oakland followed suit with a win over the Jets (2-1), leaving the Bills alone in first place in the division.

   After his team lost three overtime games a year ago and finished 4-12 overall, his first in Buffalo, Gailey is pleased with the mental toughness displayed thus far.

   The previous week, Buffalo rallied from 18 points down against the Raiders to win 38-35.

   "Yes, you've got to have mental toughness to play in those games," said Gailey, whose team travels to Cincinnati next. "We're getting closer. Now how do we handle prosperity? That'll be the next step for us. How you do handle prosperity."

   According to STATS LLC, the Bills are the first team in NFL history to have consecutive comebacks from 18 points or more down.

   The Bills pulled off the trick against New England by doing something few teams do: forcing quarterback Tom Brady into mistakes. His four interceptions, offsetting four touchdown passes, tied a personal high and were his most in a game since 2006.

   Buffalo turned those four Brady interceptions into 24 points, including a 27-yard touchdown return of a tipped pass by cornerback Drayton Florence. That put Buffalo up 31-24 with 10:22 left, but Brady tied the game on a fourth-down pass to Wes Welker.

   That set the stage for Ryan Fitzpatrick's heroics. Three pass plays of 29 yards to Donald Jones and 12 and 39 yards to running back Fred Jackson moved the ball to the Patriots 1-yard line. The Bills milked the clock to three seconds left and set up Lindell's winning boot.

   "We've proven each and every week that we're going to play until the end," Florence said. "It's time for those past Buffalo Bills memories to fade away. This is a new era, a new day."

   A new era of prosperity.

   The Patriots' streak over Buffalo stood as the third longest in NFL history, behind only Miami's 20-gamer vs. Buffalo in the 1970s and San Francisco's 17-gamer over St. Louis in the 1990s.

   The 15-game hex over Buffalo was a laugher; most of the scores were not close as Brady played near perfect football in most of those contests. But while he was on fire against the Bills once again - he threw for 387 yards - the Bills forced rare mistakes.

   Florence, Leodis McKelvin, George Wilson and Bryan Scott all finished with interceptions.

NOTES

  -- Wide receiver Steve Johnson and tight end Scott Chandler are the third and fourth players in club history to catch a touchdown pass in the first three games of a season. Andre Reed (1991) and Eric Moulds (2004) were the first two.

   -- Wide receiver Donald Jones, who moved into the No. 2 role after the trade of Lee Evans, finally made his presence felt in Sunday's win over New England. The 2010 rookie free agent caught five passes for 101 yards, a new career high. His 48-yard catch in the fourth quarter set up the team's game-tying touchdown.

PLAYER NEWS

   --QB Ryan Fitzpatrick's two touchdown passes in Sunday's win over New England gave him nine through three games. That's the most to start a season since Jim Kelly had 10 in 1991.
   --PK Rian Lindell's 28-yard field goal as time expired was the 12th game-winning kick of his career. He's now 12 of 13 in such situations. It was the third time his winning boot went through the uprights as the gun sounded.
   --RB Fred Jackson raised his rushing total for the year to 303 yards with 74 on 12 carries against New England. His five receptions for 87 yards were his most since topping 100 yards against Pittsburgh in 2010.
   --CB Aaron Williams suffered a chest injury in Sunday's win over New England and was taken from the field by stretcher. The rookie from Texas was moving his arms and legs. His condition will be updated this week, but coach Chan Gailey indicated the injury doesn't appear to be season-ending.
   --LB Shawne Merriman is still without a sack but did manage two pressures in Sunday's win over New England. The veteran free agent did tweak his back and had to get treatment in the locker room but was able to return and finish the game.
   --FS Jairus Byrd had a team-high 12 tackles and two passes defended in Sunday's win over New England.

Patriots Insider Top Stories