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Points after: Patriots 52, Bills 28

By Tim Graham

Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' humbling 52-28 loss to the New England Patriots in Ralph Wilson Stadium ...

What it means: The Bills had an opportunity to force some distance from the Patriots in the AFC East standings but failed despite leading by 14 points in the third quarter. Both teams are 2-2. The Bills are 0-2 in the division and have surrendered 100 points in those losses.

Jackson and Spiller both play, fumble: Bills running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller came back from injuries and split the workload, alternating possessions. Jackson rushed 13 times for 29 yards and had three catches for 50 yards. Spiller ran for 33 yards and had two catches for 5 yards. Each lost a fumble.

Star of the game: Tom Brady was his usual, surgical self. He was 22 of 36 for 340 yards and three touchdowns plus a rushing touchdown.

Play of the day: Buffalo had a chance to go up 21-7 right before halftime. With the ball on New England's 4-yard line, Ryan Fitzpatrick took the shotgun snap and handed off to Spiller for an up-the-middle run. Spiller fumbled. New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork recovered.

Tight end showdown: Scott Chandler out-tight-ended local boy Rob Gronkowski for most of the game. Chandler had four receptions for 62 yards and two terrific touchdown catches amid traffic in the end zone. Gronkowski shook off a first-half fumble (which the Bills converted with a Chandler touchdown) and finished with five for 104 yards and a 28-yard touchdown to give the Patriots a 28-21 lead.

Stat line of the game: Undrafted rookie running back Brandon Bolden was a revelation. He came into the game with 15 career yards. He rushed 16 times for 137 yards and a touchdown.

Preliminary injury report: Bills offensive linemen Cordy Glenn and Kraig Urbik left the game and didn't return. Glenn went down in the third quarter. Urbik had a right ankle injury in the first half. ... Bills safety Jairus Byrd came out of the game at the end of the third quarter with a hip injury. ... Bills receiver Donald Jones and Chandler each left the game early in the fourth quarter with head injuries.

Coming up: The Bills will begin a two-game Western trip with a game next Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers in Candlestick Park and then play the Arizona Cardinals in Week Six.

Bills-Patriots inactives; Jackson, Spiller to play

By Jay Skurski

After wondering all week whether they'd have either Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller for today's showdown with the New England Patriots, it turns out the Buffalo Bills will have both. Jackson and Spiller are active for today's game, as announced by the team here at Ralph Wilson Stadium about 90 minutes before kickoff.

Inactive for Buffalo are: quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, safety Delano Howell, defensive end Kyle Moore, linebacker Kirk Morrison, offensive tackle Sam Young, center Colin Brown and receiver Ruvell Martin.

Jackson, Moore, Morrison, Young and Brown have been inactive every game this season. Martin is missing his second straight because of an ankle injury, while Howell is inactive for the third time in four games after dressing last week against Cleveland.

The Bills have four running backs active today in Jackson, Spiller, Tashard Choice and Johnny White.

Inactive for the Patriots: receiver Julian Edelman, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, offensive lineman Matt Tennant, guard Logan Mankins, defensive end Brandon Deaderick, tight end Aaron Hernandez and defensive end Justin Francis.

Fred Jackson will play, C.J. Spiller still hopeful

By Tim Graham

An NFL source informs me Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson will play this afternoon against the New England Patriots, while a final decision on backfield mate C.J. Spiller -- also expected to play -- won't be made until after warmups.

Jackson is returning from a sprained knee suffered in the season opener against the New York Jets. Spiller left last week's game against the Cleveland Browns with a shoulder injury.

If Spiller can play, then Jackson will get more touches. Jackson is much farther along in his recovery, and although he had a disappointing Wednesday practice, he felt better on Thursday and Friday.

A soggy good morning from Ralph Wilson Stadium

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills have a glorious opportunity this afternoon in Ralph Wilson Stadium to stake a lead in the AFC East and distance themselves from the New England Patriots.

A victory over the Patriots would put the Bills two games up on them.

Here is a digest of items about the game ...

Most Bills fans know the recent history, but for the record: The Bills have won only one of their past 17 games against the Patriots. The Bills are 4-21 against Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and 41-62-1 all-time.

Chilly, slightly windy and rainy conditions. Since the Weather Channel forecasts have been uncannily inaccurate and useless three weeks in a row, I'm switching to the National Weather Service. The forecast for kickoff is 58 degrees, 70 percent humidity and 9 mph winds. The chance of rain is about 60 percent.

Patriots left guard Logan Mankins is out. The four-time Pro Bowler missed the entire week of practice with a hip injury and didn't make the trip. For more insight on why Mankins is so important to the Patriots' offense, check out this Press Coverage article with Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams' thoughts.

Check back on the Press Coverage blog for the rest of today's inactives, including the statuses of Bills running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. Inactives are announced around 11:30 a.m. (UPDATE: An NFL source informs me Jackson will play, while a final decision on Spiller will be made after pregame warmups.)

Rob Gronkowski thrives versus his hometown team. My cover story in today's print edition of The Buffalo News takes a look at how to stop Gronkowski -- if it's possible. The Patriots tight end and former Williamsville North star has never failed to score a touchdown against the Bills and has scored two in each of his past three games. Gronkowski has 22 catches for 314 yards and seven touchdowns in those four games.

Stay with BuffaloNews.com for game coverage throughout the day. Bills beat reporters Mark Gaughan, Jay Skurski and I are in the press box along with columnist Jerry Sullivan.

Skurski will oversee a live chat that launches at noon. For a preview of the game's biggest matchups, check out Skurski's scouting reports from today's paper.

And don't forget to check out "[BN] the Huddle," BuffaloNews.com's weekly live video postgame at 7:30 p.m. Lauren Mariacher and I will co-host tonight's one-hour recap, which will include reports from The Ralph and analysis from executive sports editor Lisa Wilson and reporters Milt Northtrop and Keith McShea.

Today's game will be televised by CBS and shown in Western New York on WIVB Channel 4. Greg Gumbel will call the plays, with Dan Dierdorf handling color commentary. In a Press Coverage posting earlier this week, Dierdorf shared his thoughts on today's matchup.

Fast Fact: A Patriots victory would give Belichick 194 in his coaching career and move him out of an eighth-place tie with former Bills coach Chuck Knox on the all-time list.

Bills all-time games versus Patriots: O.J. Simpson ran for 250 yards in 1973. Eric Moulds had 177 receiving yards in 1998. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 369 yards in the first meeting last year.

Live Bills-Pats chat at noon; live postgame show video at 7:30 p.m.

Today's live chat begins at noon, hosted by The News' Jay Skurski. Follow along throughout the game and then after with News Executive Sports Editor Lisa Wilson.

Then, live at 7:30 p.m. it is the [BN]TheHuddle Bills postgame show. Tim Graham and Lauren Mariacher present analysis and reaction from Jerry Sullivan, Mark Gaughan, Jay Skurski and Bucky Gleason. Share your thoughts on Twitter by using #BNTheHuddle.

MemoraBillia: Bills, Patriots kicked off AFL 52 years ago

By Tim Graham

When the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots meet this afternoon in Ralph Wilson Stadium, it will renew the oldest series in AFL history.

The Bills' first preseason game in 1960 was against the Boston Patriots at the Rockpile.

In that game -- the rare program is courtesy of Buffalo Sports Museum chief John Boutet -- the Patriots won 28-7 in front of a crowd of nearly 16,500. Running back Maurice Bassett scored the Bills' first touchdown and got cut a few days later.

PatsBills1960

Fantasy Saturday: Best and worst matchups of Week Four

By Jay Skurski

Our weekly look at which fantasy players have inviting opponents and which have tough tests Sunday begins at quarterback. The three teams allowing the most points per week to opposing quarterbacks, according to standard scoring in ESPN leagues, are Tennessee (23.3 points per week against), Kansas City (22.7) and Washington (22.7).

Houston's Matt Schaub is a good start against the Titans, while the Chiefs face San Diego's Philip Rivers. He's been mediocre this season, but is a good start tomorrow. The Redskins face Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman, who's a decent sleeper option.

The toughest defenses against QBs are Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta. The Bears face Tony Romo and the Cowboys on Monday night, while the Eagles face Eli Manning and the Giants on Sunday night. Atlanta hosts Carolina's Cam Newton. Despite their tough matchups, all three QBs are too good to take out of your lineup.

Against running backs, the most inviting defenses are New Orleans (31.7), Jacksonville (27.0) and Carolina (25.3). That means you can use Green Bay's Cedric Benson as a No. 2 RB against the Saints. The situation is the same for the Bengals' BenJarvus Green-Ellis against J-Ville and Atlanta's Michael Turner against the Panthers.

The toughest defenses against running backs so far have been: Minnesota (6.7), San Francisco (7.3) and Chicago (9.0). The Lions, who face Minnesota, look to be in a transition with their running game from Kevin Smith to Mikel Leshoure. Both can sit against the Vikings. The same is true with the Jets, who might be shifting from Shonn Greene to Bilal Powell. They can sit against the 49ers. The Cowboys' DeMarco Murray should start against the Cowboys as a No. 2 back or flex player.

Against receivers, Washington (38.0) and Tampa Bay (33.3) are the friendliest defenses facing each other. I like Vincent Jackson of the Bucs and the Redskins' Leonard Hankerson as a sleeper option. I'd advise against starting the Redskins' Pierre Garcon, who's questionable and doesn't play until 4:15.

Against tight ends, the Titans (18.0), Lions (13.3) and Redskins (12.3) are allowing the most points. Houston's Owen Daniels is a good start, as is Minnesota's Kyle Rudolph. Tampa Bay's Dallas Clark is a sleeper option at tight end against Washington.

The stingiest defenses against tight ends are New Orleans (2.3), Philadelphia and Indianapolis (3.3 each). The Packers' Jermichael Finley should still start, as should the Giants' Martellus Bennett against the Eagles.

Best of luck in Week Four! 

 

Tailgate activities in Lot C Sunday

If you've ever dreamed of seeing what a 21-foot goalpost constructed of 125,000 crushed aluminum cans might look like, tomorrow is your lucky day.

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Lot C at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the "Bud Light Recycling Zone" will be set up. Fans will get the opportunity to attempt a field goal through the unique uprights. In addition, Bud Light representatives will tour the tailgate areas with a “six-pack of recycling bins” to collect recycling from fans.

The Bud Light Recycling Zone is an interactive traveling display that will visit nine NFL cities, educating fans about the importance of recycling. Bud Light’s Good Sport program also encourages fans to drink responsibly and use a designated driver.

Bills talk with some 'Bawstin Diehards'

By Jay Skurski

The stakes are huge Sunday.

No, I'm not talking about the Bills' showdown with the Patriots in the AFC East. I'm talking about the wager with the "Bawstin Diehards," Anthony Pepe, John Sapochetti and John Pica.

That trio broadcasts on WWZN 1510 AM in Boston in partnership with the NBC Sports Radio Network. I joined them this week, and the talk turned to cereal. They offered up a box of "Gronk Flakes," while I said I'd send a box of "MariO's" east depending on the outcome of Sunday's game.

Of course, we also previewed said game, including how Buffalo should attack the Patriots' defense, how they might defend Tom Brady, and how far Ryan Fitzpatrick can carry the Bills.

The complete segment can be downloaded and heard below.

Download 1510 NBC Sports Radio Bills-Patriots talk

Brad Smith explains how integral Darrelle Revis is to Jets

By Tim Graham

The New York Jets still haven't placed all-world cornerback Darrelle Revis on season-ending injured reserve.

Jets coach Rex Ryan has said as long as a miniscule chance exists Revis could return from a torn knee ligament in time for the Super Bowl, they don't want to eliminate the possibility.

Observers wonder if Ryan is trying to motivate his players by suggesting the season isn't over because of Revis' injury. But it just might be.

Buffalo Bills quarterback/receiver Brad Smith was Revis' teammate for four years with the Jets. I had a chance to catch up with Smith this week and asked for his take on what Revis means to the Jets.

"Schematically, he's a big deal," Smith said. "The defense is based on him. He's a guy who can shut down half the field, and you can do a lot of other stuff with the other 10 guys as far as blitzes and different looks. When you don't have that, then you have to play more honest.

"Not only that, but he's a loss emotionally. When you have a guy like that who can give you that confidence, that might be the biggest thing."

How much hope does it give an opposing quarterback to prepare for a Revis-less defense?

"It's definitely a plus," Smith said. "You feel better about going up against a defense without the best cornerback in the league. You're excited to go up against him when he is playing because you want to test yourself against the best, but when he's out you have a better chance to see a lot more of the field on most plays."

Because of that, the AFC East became much easier for the Bills to navigate without Revis. The Jets will have more trouble accumulating victories and making a run for the division title or a wild-card berth.

But they already have a victory over the Bills, and Smith noted that Revis' absence won't make the Jets a walkover.

"I'm sure Rex and those guys will do something to make up for it with their schemes," Smith said. "Guys will step up. We as a team have to go out there and beat the Jets, not Darrelle Revis."

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

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.

@ByTimGraham | [email protected]


Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

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.

@gggaughan | [email protected]


Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

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.

@JaySkurski | [email protected]

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