Patriots 38 Bills 14
FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) – Stephon Gilmore remembers looking to the right and the ball was in the air. The Buffalo Bills cornerback never even had a chance.
“You can’t miss it,” Gilmore said after Tom Brady completed only two passes with an interception on Sunday in the New England Patriots’ 38-14 victory in their last tuneup for the start of the NFL season.
And he’s right.
Brady completed 17 of 26 passes for 231 yards in the final tuneup for the start of the NFL season. He had his lowest completion percentage of the summer by far.
Perhaps the most frustrating play came with his team driving deep into Bills territory late in the second quarter. There was a downfield pass thrown by Brady between two defenders. But Darrelle Revis dove and missed the intended receiver. He then almost intercepted another pass thrown by Brady two plays later, resulting in a potential 43-yard touchdown that wound up being negated by an offensive pass interference penalty.
“We kind of got away from our basic things,” Revis said. “First of all we should have picked our spot and locked in on our spot and we picked up a false start. Then Tom takes off and just like that a lot of things were going against us. We gotta be smarter on these types of situations. Overall we’ve got to be better. We know we are.”
Patriots cornerback Eric Rowe had to climb to a far higher position to secure his second interception of the summer. He hauled in a deflected pass intended for Sammy Watkins midway through the third quarter.
“It was good, everything was great,” Rowe said. “I did not know it was on the money right away.”
Matthew Slater got the kickoff and returned it 36 yards before picking up a few yards when the punt was blocked by the Bills. They got the ball at their own 24-yard line.
Tom Brady said he felt like his passing game was “pretty well in order” but wished he could have completed some more passes.
“You want to do everything you can with your time to hit some of those shorter ones early in the game and then you’re three downs in from the start,” Brady said. “Then as the game progresses you’re really ready to get into some more deep stuff and he’s hitting some people and making some nice plays on the ball and had a great return.”
Meanwhile, most of his targeted receivers caught the football. Brandin Cooks had six catches for 99 yards and a touchdown. Chris Hogan, a new addition to the offensive line in the offseason, added five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. Rob Gronkowski, who had one catch for 11 yards, was not targeted on Brady’s opening drives.
“He’s in a position to make some throws right now,” Belichick said. “He’s got some opportunities to make some throws. He’ll get better. As you start to learn more of what they do, you can get better at it as well.”
That’s something the Bills do not have.
The pass defense looked like it has not recovered from the defense that was decimated by injuries last season.
“It’s not going to be like that right away, but I think there’s no question that we do have a high level of confidence in this group right now, but that will wane the longer it goes,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “We are going to get back to basics. Obviously, it’s too early to get too comfortable with this group right now, but we’re pleased with the way some of the players came together and the development. There are some positives there. Our plan is to keep building on it.”
But McDermott and his defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier also understand that the conversion in the passing game will be imperative if they plan to reach their second Super Bowl in three seasons.
“You want to show you can handle the elements of the game. Don’t have to be perfect. Just be consistent and able to do what we do well and give yourself a chance to win,” Frazier said. “I think the consistency in the passing game is going to be part of that.”