New England Patriots fans will extol the 11-point comeback by Tom Brady that led to a 25-24 win Monday in the NFL season opener for both teams. But an impartial observer will point out the obvious -- the Buffalo Bills choked it away. They had an 11-point lead (24-13) with 5:30 to play, then played a soft defense that allowed the Patriots to march 81 yards and cut the lead to five.
With 2:06 left, the Patriots kicked off with 2:06 left to their secret weapon, Bills return man Leodis McKelvin, who had fumbled his previous kickoff return only to get a lucky bounce and have a teammate recover. This time, McKelvin momentarily thought about kneeling and giving the Bills the ball at the 20, but he decided to run it out. Great decision! He fumbled again and this time the Patriots recovered at the Buffalo 31.
It took Brady all of three plays to strike, hitting Benjamin Watson on a 16-yard TD pass on a route that was identical to one he threw for a TD to Watson the previous series. Game over.
This defeat was eerily reminiscent to a 25-24 loss by the Bills to Dallas on Monday Night Football two years ago; in that game they had what seemed like a safe lead, only to gag it away. There is a reason teams like the Patriots stay at an elite level, while the Bills have not made the playoff this decade -- the former knows they always have a chance, while the latter at some point collectively wake up and remember, "We're the Buffalo Bills."
On a positive note, the Bills throwback uniforms rock. They at least look good while falling apart.