ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- The Buffalo Bills' victory was well in
hand when Drew Bledsoe and Lawyer Milloy -- the two Pro Bowl players
in the middle of this captivating drama -- shared a few words on the
"We were talking about what you probably think we were talking
about," Bledsoe said with a wink. "We were both pretty happy with
Bledsoe and Milloy combined to stick it their former team, the
New England Patriots, sparking the Bills to a dominating 31-0
victory in their opener.
Are the Bills that much improved or did they just catch New England at a good time?
The Bills improved drastically with the addition of Takeo Spikes to the defense but the late pickup of Lawyer Milloy is the missing piece for this team. Milloy brings great talent on the field and great leadership off the field. This was a great pickup for them and maybe the difference in a tough division.
How long will the release of Milloy be a distraction?
Milloy's release will be a distraction for the rest of the season whenever they lose a game. This was a bad move by the Patriots, they not only lost his veteran leadership but his energy and intelligence.
Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.
Besides snapping Buffalo's five-game losing streak against New
England, it capped an emotional week for both players. Bledsoe,
traded to Buffalo in April 2002, spent the offseason itching to
erase the dreadful memories of last year's two losses against the
Milloy's wait for vindication was much shorter, coming five days
after the four-time Pro Bowl safety was released by the Patriots
for salary cap reasons.
"It feels good," said Milloy. "But it feels good in a
positive way, not in a personal vendetta way. I could be sitting up
here and throwing out names and sticking it to them, but they
Milloy made a big impact as a starter, despite having three days
to learn the playbook. He forced an interception, recorded a sack
and got in on five tackles.
Bledsoe engineered scoring drives of 80 and 90 yards on his
first two possessions and finished 17-of-28 for 230 yards, with a
touchdown and an interception.
The game was effectively over when the Bills went up 21-0 with
10:14 left in the second quarter. The lead was built on Travis
Henry's 1-yard plunge, Dave Moore's 7-yard reception, and defensive
tackle Sam Adams' 37-yard interception return.
The Patriots had nothing in response, looking nothing like the
team that outscored Buffalo by a combined 65-24 in two games last
New England's offense, in particular, never got going, managing
a mere 51 yards in the first half and six first downs, two by
How bad were they? Six minutes into the second quarter, the
Patriots had minus-4 yards of offense.
If Milloy's loss was a factor, Patriots coach Bill Belichick
"We didn't play well," Belichick said, a pat response to the
three times Milloy's name was mentioned.
Cornerback Ty Law suggested differently.
"It was an obvious distraction," Law said, referring to
Milloy's departure. "But no excuses. We didn't play well. Even if
Lawyer Milloy was here, we wouldn't have done enough to win."
Tom Brady, who replaced Bledsoe as the Patriots' starter in
2001, had an abysmal outing. He finished 14-of-29 for 123 yards and
threw four interceptions, tying a career high; he also threw four
against Denver in 2001.
Brady summed up the loss: "From the first play on, it was
Buffalo, Buffalo, Buffalo."
Brady wasn't alone among the blundering Patriots, who twice had
drives stall after they got within the Bills 2. That included two
tries from the 1 in the final 20 seconds, the game ending when
Antowain Smith was stuffed for no gain.
As season openers go, it was Buffalo's largest margin of victory
since a 40-7 win over the Los Angeles Rams in 1992. It was also the
second regular-season opening shutout, and first in any game for
the Bills since a 26-0 win over Philadelphia in 1999.
Henry scored a second time on a 9-yard scamper in the fourth
quarter and Rian Lindell added a 44-yard field goal.
Most impressive was a revamped defense, whose newcomers include
Adams and linebacker Takeo Spikes.
Spikes had two interceptions and six tackles, while Milloy
didn't look like he lost a step when he helped force an
With Brady attempting to hit David Patten on a deep post route,
Milloy closed quickly and got his hand up to deflect the ball at
the goal line. The ball bounced up and was brought down by Bills
cornerback Nate Clements.
It was a strong showing from a unit that gave up an average 25
points and managed a league-low 19 turnovers last year.
"I told Drew don't worry about today," defensive tackle Pat
Williams said. "I said don't worry about no Patriots today, we got
Notes: Adams' interception return was the second of his career and
first by a Bills defensive lineman since Pat Toomay in 1975. ...
Henry's first touchdown marked the first time the Bills scored a
first-quarter touchdown against the Patriots since a 41-17 loss on
Dec. 18, 1994. ... The Patriots were last shut out in a 6-0 loss to
the New York Jets on Nov. 28, 1993.