1:00 PM ET, September 25, 2011
Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo, NY
The Buffalo Bills' blowout win in Week 1 turned some heads, and a stirring comeback last weekend left them among the league's seven unbeatens.
Any kind of victory Sunday would take the buzz to a whole new level.
The upstart Bills will face the ultimate early test when they try to avoid a 16th straight loss to the New England Patriots, who visit western New York for a showdown between the AFC's highest-scoring offenses.
Coming off a 4-12 season that extended its playoff drought to 11 years, Buffalo (2-0) is surely the most surprising of the three AFC East teams yet to lose.
After steamrolling Kansas City 41-7 in their season opener, the Bills rallied from a 21-3 halftime deficit last Sunday and beat Oakland 38-35 on Ryan Fitzpatrick's 6-yard, fourth-down touchdown pass to David Nelson with 14 seconds left.
As happy as the Bills are to start 2-0 for only the second time in eight seasons, wide receiver Stevie Johnson knows they have a chance to make an even bigger statement against the Patriots (2-0).
"If we want to change things around here, this is where we've got to start," Johnson said. "We know that they're the team above, but we feel like we can go out there and beat these guys."
That's something the Bills haven't done since a stunning 31-0 win Sept. 7, 2003. Although they challenged New England in a 38-30 road loss last Sept. 26, the NFL's longest active streak in any series stretched to 15 with the Patriots' 34-3 win in Orchard Park, N.Y., on Dec. 26.
Fitzpatrick had major problems in that game with three interceptions and two of the Bills' four lost fumbles, but he's turned the ball over just once this year. He's completed 63.4 percent of his passes and thrown for seven TDs while getting plenty of help from Fred Jackson, the NFL's leading rusher with 229 yards.
"This is a new Buffalo Bills team," New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said. "Looking at them on film, they're making big plays after big plays. They actually look pretty good. It's no smoke and mirrors with them.
"They're the real deal."
That's certainly true of Tom Brady, on pace to throw for more than 7,500 yards this season after two prolific performances.
The reigning NFL MVP posted a career-high 517 passing yards and four TDs in a 38-24 win at Miami, then torched San Diego for 423 yards and three scores in last Sunday's 35-21 victory.
Brady is 17-1 with a 103.0 passer rating against Buffalo.
"With Brady, it has to be one play at a time because he's going to make plays," Bills defensive lineman Kyle Williams said. "If you get caught up on junk that happened before, I think that's when he burns you."
While the Patriots are third in the NFL with 73 points, the Bills lead the way with 79, and they could post another big number against New England's 31st-ranked defense and banged-up secondary.
The status of rookie cornerback Ras-I Dowling (thigh) also is uncertain after he left last Sunday's win.
"It seems to be going around a little bit on the defensive backs," Barrett said. "You're not in there thinking about it at all, but just wrapping up (ball carriers), small stuff, that it can hinder and inhibit you from doing."
A knee injury will sideline Aaron Hernandez, who has combined with fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski for 337 receiving yards and five touchdowns. The Patriots also released Gronkowski's brother Dan, leaving Rob Gronkowski -- who caught three touchdowns against the Bills last year -- as New England's lone healthy tight end.
The Gronkowskis grew up in the Buffalo area.
A tight end also has made a major impact for Buffalo. Scott Chandler had two touchdown catches against the Chiefs and one in the fourth quarter last weekend.
He and Nelson may be asked to carry a heavier load after Roscoe Parrish was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury this week. Parrish had 400 receiving yards in eight games last year, including a season-high 83 at New England.
"He's a big part of what we do and what we wanted to do," Fitzpatrick said. "That's going to be hard for us."
Not as hard, perhaps, as the challenge the Patriots pose.
"It'll be a great test for us," Jackson said. "It will be a good way for us to establish ourselves as one of the best teams in the league if we can go out and get this win this weekend."
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|Avg Points Allowed||26.3||24.3|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||NE|
|Rush Yds Allowed||NE|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|New England leads 20-2|
|Dec 26, 2010||NE 34, @BUF 3|
|Sep 26, 2010||NE 38, BUF 30|
|Dec 20, 2009||NE 17, @BUF 10|
|Sep 14, 2009||NE 25, BUF 24|
|Dec 28, 2008||NE 13, @BUF 0|
|Nov 9, 2008||NE 20, BUF 10|
|Nov 18, 2007||NE 56, @BUF 10|
|Sep 23, 2007||NE 38, BUF 7|
|Oct 22, 2006||NE 28, @BUF 6|
|Sep 10, 2006||NE 19, BUF 17|
|Dec 11, 2005||NE 35, @BUF 7|
|Oct 30, 2005||NE 21, BUF 16|
|Nov 14, 2004||NE 29, BUF 6|
|Oct 3, 2004||NE 31, @BUF 17|
|Dec 27, 2003||NE 31, BUF 0|
|Sep 7, 2003||NE 0, @BUF 31|
|Dec 8, 2002||NE 27, BUF 17|
|Nov 3, 2002||NE 38, @BUF 7|
|Dec 16, 2001||NE 12, @BUF 9|
|Nov 11, 2001||NE 21, BUF 11|
There's a lot of excitement brewing in Buffalo as the Bills are 2-0 heading into Sunday's game vs the Patriots. With a win against their division rivals, the Bills will start 3-0 for just the 5th time in the last 30 years. In 2008, Buffalo started 4-0 only to lose 9 of its final 12 games and missed the playoffs.[+]
BILL-DING MOMENTUM - 3-0 STARTS, LAST 30 YEARS
ESPN Stats & Information