Tom Brady wore his emotion on his sleeve Sunday afternoon, dealing with questions on his second half performances he had everything to prove. Facing a crucial third and six on a third quarter drive with the Patriots up 24-23 he saw no options in front of him, so he took it himself.
He bolted forward and slid for the first down jumping up and bumping his chest with a primal yell in the most animated display he has shown all season.
It was the sign of a revitalized Brady and new look offense that took his first down and converted it into their second of three second half touchdowns that put them on their way to a 38-30 victory over the Buffalo Bills Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
It was an unexpected shootout considering the Bills were coming off a 34-7 loss in their Week Two match against Miami.
“At the end of the year when you look at your record, going ‘Oh that was a close game,’” Brady said. “A win’s a win.”
And it was a particularly telling win for the Patriots who, in their first game without top running back Kevin Faulk, saw a their running corps rack up an impressive 200 yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries.
“It was a lot better than the two yards a carry we had last week,” said head coach Bill Belichick. “It was productive. We got production from a lot of different types of runs.”
It was fact made evident in the Pats final score. With New England up 31-24 in the closing minute of the third quarter, Brady took New England from their own 25 yard line to the endzone on the backs of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and the recently signed Danny Woodhead who was last seen on national television taking orders from Rex Ryan and Co. on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” this summer.
“More than anything, it was good to help the team out,” Woodhead said. “I’m not so concerned with getting my touchdown or whatever. I’m more concerned with getting the victory. We got the victory, that’s the most important thing.”
Woodhead and Green-Ellis were the biggest benefactors of an offense that was the polar opposite of the one rolled out last week against the Jets. Rather than forcing the ball to Randy Moss on long routes the Pats used a more balanced attack that saw their 452 yards of offense split evenly between runs and passes.
“Whenever you run the ball that makes everything else that much easier: your play action game, you’re not in long yardage,” said Belichick. “That’s always a point of emphasis and some weeks we do it better than others, but it was good production today and that obviously really helped us.”
They needed every one of those points as the Bills, under newly installed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, were still able to burn a young Patriots defense for 242 yards and two touchdowns.
Though shaky throughout the game it was a key interception by Pat Chung that proved to be the difference. With the Patriots up 31-23 in the fourth quarter Fitzpatrick got the Bills to the red zone on a catch by Roscoe Parrish. With Fitzpatrick looking towards the endzone on the next play Chung intercepted a sailing pass at the goal line that set up the Patriots final scoring drive.
Though the Bills scored on their next possession to make it 38-30 it was too little too late as they were forced to go 0-3 on the season and 16-1 against Tom Brady and the Patriots.
The Patriots will now head down to South Beach for a Monday night showdown with the surprisingly strong Miami Dolphins. They take with them a new lease on life and a few more answered questions after a strong answer to their lackluster Week Two game.