September 30, 2012 - 9:20 PM
By Jay Skurski
Amherst native Rob Gronkowski really likes playing against the Buffalo Bills.
The Patriots’ third-year tight end had five catches for 104 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets from quarterback Tom Brady in today's 52-28 win over the Bills. Gronkowski now has 27 catches for 418 yards and eight touchdowns in five games against his hometown team.
“It’s great coming home,” he said. “Friends and family, it’s great to give them that victory, too.”
Gronkowski was listed as questionable on the injury report, but his performance left little doubt he was ready to play.
“It’s not as easy as it looks. It’s the NFL, those guys are out there, they are great players. You got to work your butt off, you got to be going full speed in order to execute, in order to make plays,” he said.
Gronkowski took advantage of a blown coverage in the Bills’ secondary on his touchdown catch, which covered 28 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter. It was a nice bounce back for Gronkowski, who in the first half lost just the second fumble of his career.
“I just need to be execute plays. I can’t be having that,” he said of the fumble and a couple first-half drops. “It hurts the team a lot. I need to be protecting the ball better, no doubt about that. It’s awesome that Tom came back to me, trusted my abilities, trusted me the whole game."
September 30, 2012 - 7:04 PM
By Jay Skurski
The Buffalo Bills were beat down today against the New England Patriots, and even worse, they were beat up.
The Bills had five starters leave the game because of injuries during their 52-28 loss. Tight end Scott Chandler, receiver Donald Jones, safety Jairus Byrd and offensive linemen Cordy Glenn and Kraig Urbik all came out, with injuries of varying severity.
Both Chandler and Jones came off because of blows to the head, but passed concussion tests and said they were fine after the game. The news wasn’t as good for Urbik and Glenn.
“Cordy’s got an ankle that’s going to be a while, and so does Urbik,” coach Chan Gailey said after the game.
Gailey had little time after the game to address the challenge of replacing two offensive linemen.
“Ah, that’s an excuse,” he said. “We expect guys to walk in and play.”
Urbik said he wasn’t supposed to talk about his injury after the game, but did call it “nothing major.”
Byrd, who forced both New England fumbles before being hurt, suffered a hip pointer that left him in considerable pain after the game. He was seen in the locker room on his way to the training room. Byrd was injured with about three minutes to go in the third quarter. He did not play in the fourth quarter.
Jones and Chandler both took huge hits in the second half. Jones was leveled by Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork on a clean hit in the fourth quarter. Two plays later, Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was intercepted by Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty. During the return, Chandler took a questionable blindside hit from New England linebacker Brandon Spikes.
“I’m fine. I passed all my tests and everything, so I should be good,” Chandler said.
September 30, 2012 - 5:58 PM
Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and Coach Chan Gailey answer reporters' questions after the 52-28 loss at the Ralph.
September 30, 2012 - 5:53 PM
By Tim Graham
When an opponent comes into your house and kneecaps you so thoroughly, there are all sorts of places to find blame. The Buffalo Bills gave up 52 points and lost by more than three touchdowns.
But Bills running back C.J. Spiller shouldered the blame for a momentum-swinging mistake at the end of the second quarter Sunday.
The Bills were on the doorstep of taking a 21-7 lead over the New England Patriots in Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills also scored on their first possession after halftime, so they should have been up 28-7.
That wasn't the case because Spiller -- on a shotgun handoff from the 4-yard line -- fumbled on the goal line with 71 seconds left until halftime.
"That was crucial," Spiller said. "That was totally crucial. That was the turning point of the game. That's totally on me, nobody else. I've just got to do a better job of securing the ball, especially down there.
"For us to walk away with nothing ... You can't do that and win games."
Spiller, who hurt his shoulder last week against the Cleveland Browns and was questionable for today's game, said the injury didn't bother him. He claimed not to have any pain.
"I felt like I could go today," Spiller said. "The main thing that I said is, 'If I can be effective I'm going to get out there.' I'm not going to get out there if I felt I couldn't be effective or contribute in some type of way for our team. I felt I was good enough to do that."
Spiller and Fred Jackson -- returning from a knee injury on opening day -- alternated possessions.
Jackson ran 13 times for 29 yards and caught three passes for 50 yards. He also lost a fumble. Spiller had eight carries for 33 yards and two catches for 5 yards.
September 30, 2012 - 5:45 PM
By Tim Graham
Two games seems like a small sample size, but it's one-third of the Buffalo Bills' division schedule.
The Bills today were smacked down yet again by the New England Patriots, this time 52-28 in Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills are 0-2 in the AFC East and have given up 100 points. They've lost by an average of 22 points.
"That was really embarrassing," Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. "We've got a lot of pride in this locker room, and right now we've got our tails between our legs. We got our butts kicked."
The Bills surrendered an appalling 580 yards and 33 first downs. That's with their sparkly new defense that looked so good against the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns.
The Patriots showed they're in another class, much like the New York Jets did on opening day. The Bills lost that game 48-28.
"Unfortunately, we've been in this situation before," Fitzpatrick said. "But fortunately we've responded to this situation. We look at the film and we try to get better and move on, but it's just hard. This is the second division game, and we haven't come out and played well."
The Patriots scored six second-half touchdowns on six straight possessions with six different players.
"I don't like to play like that," Bills coach Chan Gailey said. "I don't think that's who we are. But that's who we were today. We can't sugarcoat it any way. But we're 2-2 today.
"You kicked dirt on us almost after the first game. Everybody was getting high after two, and everybody will kick dirt on us after this week. That's just the way it is."
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns and ran another one in. He didn't get chased much and was sacked just once. Patriots running backs Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden rushed for over 100 yards and at least one touchdown apiece.
And that was without the Patriots' best offensive lineman, left guard Logan Mankins.
"To be honest with you, they whipped us," Gailey said. "That's the bottom line. They whipped us.
"They blocked us. We didn't get off blocks and get to the ball. ... They were making our corners make a bunch of tackles, and we missed entirely too many tackles."
Said Bills linebacker Nick Barnett: "Humiliated, disappointed ... All those words could work. That's it. I don't know what other words you can say ... man, pissed off. We'll let it eat at us for 24 hours and turn this thing around."
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About Press Coverage
Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.
Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.