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Points after: Patriots 23, Bills 21

Tom Brady and the Patriots rallied in the closing minutes. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

By Tim Graham

Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' heartbreaking loss to the New England Patriots in Ralph Wilson Stadium ...

What it means: Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel played a clean game, and the Bills' defense capitalized on some fortunate bounces to nearly propel them past the heavily favored defending AFC East champions.

Bills star of the game: With running back C.J. Spiller struggling to gain yards, Fred Jackson became the featured offensive player. He finished with 13 carries for 67 yards and four catches for 41 yards.

Patriots star of the game: Wide receiver Danny Amendola made several clutch receptions and kept the chains moving. He finished with 10 catches for 104 yards.

Play of the game: Patriots running Stevan Ridley fumbled while making a cut but wasn't touched. Bills safety Da'Norris Searcy picked up the ball and returned it 74 yards for a touchdown with 8:25 left in the second quarter.

Swing moment of the game: With barely more than a minute left in the first half and the Bills down by 10 points, cornerback Justin Rogers made a fantastic interception at the Patriots' 37-yard line on a Tom Brady pass intended for tight end Zach Sudfeld. Two plays later, Manuel threw his first NFL touchdown and Robert Woods caught his first NFL touchdown. Then the Bills scored on the first possession of the second half -- Manuel to Stevie Johnson -- for a 21-17 lead they very nearly held onto.

Stat line of the game: Manuel completed 18 of his 27 throws for 150 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in his NFL debut. He also ran three times for 23 yards.

Stat line of the game II: The Bills' first quarter consisted of 38 yards of offense, a fumble, a near-interception and four penalties for 35 yards.

Penalties a problem: The Bills committed 13 penalties. Ten of them were accepted for losses of 75 yards.

Preliminary injury report: Bills receiver Marquise Goodwin left right before halftime with a hand injury and did not return. ... Searcy missed much of the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury.

Coming up: The Bills will host the Carolina Panthers at 1 p.m. next Sunday in Ralph Wilson Stadium.


C.J. Spiller | Da'Norris Searcy | EJ Manuel | Fred Jackson | Points after | Robert Woods | Stevie Johnson
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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 |

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 |

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 |