A failed fourth-down call and a daring pass from inside their own 10-yard line blew up in the collective face of the Buffalo Bills in their 19-17 opening day loss to rival New England on Sunday in Foxboro, Mass. But players applauded new coach Dick Jauron for having faith in them and hope he maintains that aggressive attitude the rest of the season.
"It was a big play. I'm glad the coach called it," said quarterback J.P. Losman of a fourth-down call at the Patriots' 7- yard line early in the second half that could've resulted in Buffalo taking a commanding 17-point lead at Gillette Stadium, but instead swung the game's momentum.
"If we hope to be the team we want to be, we have to have that attitude. We just drove 80 yards down the field and you want us to let up? No way. I'm glad he let us do that."
The play was stuffed and the game's momentum shifted when running back Willis McGahee was held to no gain when linebacker Don Davis got hold of his ankle and held on as McGahee stretched his body. New England rallied behind quarterback Tom Brady, who was held to three net yards passing in the first half. The Bills fell to 0-5 at Gillette Stadium all time.
The winning points were the result of another aggressive play call by the Bills coaching staff when the game was tied 17-17.
Backed up to his own goal-line and facing a third-and-11 at his 8-yard line with 9:00 to play, Losman got the green light to pass when the safe play would've been to run the ball and punt. Losman was met with an all-out blitz. He ducked linebacker Tully Banta-Cain but when he moved to his left, ran into the arms of end Ty Warren for a sack in the end zone.
|Buffalo Bills middle linebacker London Fletcher (59) celebrates a touchdown with left tackle Larry Tripplett, behind with arm up, after Fletcher recovered a New England Patriots fumble on the first play from scrimmage during their AFC East NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday afternoon Sept. 10, 2006. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)|
"We were taking a shot right there," wide receiver Lee Evans said. "I like the play call because it showed aggressiveness and the things we can do offensively.
"I think a lot of the calls made in this game, it showed an aggressive team. We wanted to come in and take a win because we knew they weren't going to give it to us. You have to take it from them. It shows we're going to keep the pressure on teams and in games like this down the road, we'll learn to win these."
While encouraged by his club's first effort, Jauron isn't a silver-lining kind of guy. And he knows his team, which self-destructed with four damaging penalties in the fourth quarter, will have to be better to win at Miami (0-1) on Sunday.
"I'd rather learn through winning, making the errors and coming out with a victory and advance that way," said Jauron, former coach of the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions. "We played hard, we just made critical errors. I've always liked this group. It's our first game together. I'll get a better feeling after this one about who they are, how they play."
The Bills took a 17-7 halftime lead but couldn't sustain the momentum in the second half and lost 19-17 on a safety delivered by Patriots defensive end Ty Warren on J.P. Losman with 8:33 to play. Buffalo took a 7-0 lead on the first play of the game when linebacker Takeo Spikes, in his first game in nearly a year after Achilles' tendon surgery, sacked Tom Brady and caused a fumble which was scooped up and returned five yards by London Fletcher.
The Bills had a chance to go up by 17 points early in the third quarter but Willis McGahee was held to no gain on a fourth- -and-one at the Patriots' 7-yard line. New England took over and drove 93 yards in 12 plays to a touchdown, cutting Buffalo's lead to 17-14. Brady connected with RB Kevin Faulk for a 17-yard TD to cap the drive.
New England tied the game on rookie Stephen Gostkowski's 32-yard field goal to cap a 14-play, 63-yard drive early in the fourth quarter. On the next series, Losman was sacked in the end zone by Warren for what proved to be the game-winning safety.
Rookie safety Donte Whitner intercepted Brady on the next series, but the Bills ended up punting after another Losman sack and New England ate the final 6:15 of clock to seal the victory, their 11th in the last 12 meetings against Buffalo.