FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots surrendered a season-high 162 yards rushing to the Buffalo Bills Sunday while allowing 337 yards passing.
When it was all said and done, the defense gave up 481 total yards and still managed to pull out a win, 37-31.
The loss dropped the Buffalo Bills to 3-6 and gave the Patriots a 3-0 record against AFC East opponents. Two wins have came against the Bills, but they weren’t similar.
In Week 4, the Patriots exploded in the second half en route to a 52-28 victory over Buffalo that looked more like a varsity team beating up on its junior squad. On Sunday, the Patriots were on their heels as the Bills drove down the field looking for the go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute remaining.
The contrast cuts further. In Week 4, the Patriots came up with two crucial turnovers to help spur along the rout. On Sunday, the Patriots forced three turnovers, but can only point to one, Devin McCourty’s game-sealing interception, as having been critical.
For a team that sported the eighth-ranked run defense heading into Sunday, it begs the question whether or not it could have done more to prevent the Bills from making it such a close game.
“The most important thing is to walk away with a ‘W,’ ” said defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. “That’s the biggest, biggest thing, is to walk away with a ‘W.’ So, when you can do that against division games against division teams, it always feels good. Things weren’t perfect. But we made plays when we needed to make plays.
“But we’re going to have to take this with a grain of salt and keep it moving. We fought. They fought. It’s just two teams that know each other very, very well. It came down to the last couple of seconds. Like I said, anytime you play a division game you have to suspect it’s going to be a close game. It was. We’re not disappointed at all about winning the ballgame. But some things we can do better, some things we did good out there. But at the same time, the main goal was to win.”
The thought the Bills caught the Patriots by surprise was quickly shot down. Especially with running backs C.J. Spiller (9 carries, 70 yards) and Fred Jackson (16 carries, 80 yards) making a huge mark.
“We’re not surprised,” Wilfork said. “Trust me. We knew coming into this game [C.J.] Spiller averaging 7 yards a whop, 8 yards a whop. That hasn’t been done in who knows how long. But that’s a big stack, he showed tonight. Very explosive backs at the skill positions. I think they’re one of the better offensive lines, coached very well and they gave us a handful. So we knew it was going to be a tough game. The thing is playing against the Buffalo Bills is always tough, a division game is always tough. You really can’t look at records when you start looking at division games, and the prime case is today.”