Bills 24

(0-1, 0-1 away)

Patriots 25

(1-0, 1-0 home)

Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

7:00 PM ET, September 14, 2009

Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA 

1 2 3 4 T
BUF 7 7 3 724
NE 0 10 0 1525

Top Performers

Passing: T. Brady (NE) - 378 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: F. Jackson (BUF) - 15 CAR, 57 YDS

Receiving: R. Moss (NE) - 12 REC, 141 YDS

Brady leads Pats to two scores in final 2:06 to beat Bills

Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tom Brady doesn't do mediocre.

That's not what all those long rehab sessions and months of preparing for his return to the NFL were about. So while Brady's performance was pedestrian for much of Monday night's season opener, when the spotlight was at its most intense, he lived up to the advance billing.

It seemed to take forever, though.

A year after being sidelined with torn knee ligaments, Brady resembled a rusty game manager more than the invincible record-setting quarterback who guided the Patriots to a perfect 2007 regular season. Yet, he threw two touchdown passes in the final 2:06 as New England beat the Buffalo Bills 25-24.

Fast Facts

• In his first regular-season game since Week 1 of the 2008 season, Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes to Ben Watson in a span of 1:16 late in the fourth quarter to give the Pats their 12th straight win over the Bills. That's tied with the Chargers-Raiders for the longest active streak by one team over another in the NFL.

• Brady finished with a career-high-tying 39 completions in 53 attempts for 378 yards with two scores and an INT. His interception was returned 26 yards for a touchdown by Aaron Schobel, the first time he had a pick returned for a TD since Dec. 26, 2005.

• Randy Moss led all receivers with 141 receiving yards, his 60th career game topping the 100-yard mark. That broke a tie with Marvin Harrison for the second most in NFL history.

• In his Bills debut, Terrell Owens caught two passes, matching his single-game low from 2008, for 46 yards.

• The Bills have now lost their last three MNF games by a combined four points.

• Rapid Reaction

-- ESPN Stats & Information

"I felt good all night, we were just off," Brady said. "The plays we needed to make -- fourth downs we missed, third downs we missed, two chances in the red area, the interception -- those things really get you behind the 8-ball. We recovered with just a few seconds left. Sometimes it happens like that.

"It's a pretty special victory."

Brady needed help in the form of Leodis McKelvin's fumble on a kickoff return after the Patriots pulled within five points.

Placekicker Stephen Gostkowski, of all people, recovered at the Buffalo 31. Brady needed three plays before hitting Benjamin Watson over the middle for the decisive 16-yard touchdown with 50 seconds to go.

"We have a real competitive locker room, a real competitive team," Brady said. "When you're in a situation like we were, it's when you really have to step it up. It takes every guy on the field to step it up. Hopefully, we will continue to do that."

Brady bunches up TDs late

Tom Brady returned for the Patriots and was most impressive on the final two drives.

Tom Brady, Monday vs. Bills
1st 8 Drives Last 2 Drives
Comp-Att 27-39 12-14
Pass yds 266 112
TD-Int 0-1 2-0
Passer rtg 77.5 139.6

Just 1:16 earlier, he found Watson on a similar play for an 18-yard score. It was vintage Brady, who threw for a record 50 TDs two years ago in leading New England to a perfect record.

"Two-minute drives always are fun for a quarterback," Brady said. "Spread it out, the pass rush gets a little tired, you get a feel for the coverage, you just have to be patient.

"I'm glad it's over, glad we are moving on, got a win, and we'll learn from it."

That unbeaten season was spoiled in Brady's last full game that counted, the February 2008 Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. He was hurt in last season's opener.

Now he's back, although for much of the game he and the Patriots played conservatively, even passively. Indeed, Buffalo seemed ready to break an 11-game losing streak against New England and win for the first time in Gillette Stadium.

Then came the late fireworks, demonstrating that Tom Terrific hasn't lost his touch.

"That's not how we drew it up, but I'll take it," Brady said. "We did a lot of things poorly, but we got the win."

Buffalo did a lot of things well, but got a shocking loss.

"I chose to bring it out because that's me, no matter what it is," McKelvin said of the lost fumble. "If I had that choice, probably 100 times, I'd do it again."

Coming off a 1-4 preseason in which the offense flopped, the Bills made plenty of big plays.

Trent Edwards outperformed Brady for much of the game and threw for two scores. A 10-yard screen pass TD to Fred Jackson put Buffalo ahead 24-13 with 5:32 to go -- even though its new spotlight-grabber, Terrell Owens, barely caused a ripple. Owens had two catches for 46 yards, then refused to speak about it after the game.

When the offense wasn't doing the damage, defensive end Aaron Schobel was rambling 26 yards with an interception for a first-half TD.

"The interception was a really bad play," Brady said. "You can't do that. You learn from them, get focused and concentrate on what you have to do."

Still, these are the Patriots, who have not lost a regular-season game with Brady at quarterback since Dec. 10, 2006. And they still have all those threats in the passing game, from Randy Moss (12 catches, 141 yards) to Wes Welker (12, 93) to tight end Watson (6, 77, two TDs).

Although Brady had those impressive stats, he never looked deep and struggled to convert key plays until the final moments. Perhaps that big hit he took on his shoulder from Albert Haynesworth 2 1/2 weeks ago limited Brady. And maybe his team was uncomfortable in the throwback red uniforms or being introduced as the Boston Patriots for the first of the NFL's tribute games to the old AFL. Something wasn't right in Foxborough -- until the end.

"It has nothing to do with his layoff," Moss said. "I think it's just first-game jitters. I'm not making an excuse, we just had to settle down and get to playing football the way we know how."

Game notes

Buffalo's other touchdown was an 11-yard reception by Shawn Nelson. Rian Lindell added a 40-yard field goal. ... Gostkowski had field goals of 20 and 28 yards, but only one extra point because the Patriots failed on two 2-point tries after their late touchdowns. ... Fred Jackson, filling in for suspended starting RB Marshawn Lynch, had 57 yards rushing and 83 receiving for Buffalo. ... Bills LB Paul Posluszny broke his arm and DE Chris Kelsay hurt his knee. ... Patriots LB Jerod Mayo, the 2008 Defensive Rookie of the year, injured his right knee.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs1728
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays4877
Total Yards276441
Yards per play5.85.7
Total Drives811
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)2-23-5
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs10

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

bufTD3:03Shawn Nelson 11 Yard Pass From Trent Edwards (Rian Lindell Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 68 yds, 3:17
neTD6:25Fred Taylor 1 Yard Run (Stephen Gostkowski Kick is Good)
Drive info: 14 plays, 72 yds, 7:12
bufTD3:38Aaron Schobel 26 Yard Interception Return (Rian Lindell Kick is Good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 36 yds, 0:00
neFG0:05Stephen Gostkowski 20 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 9 plays, 68 yds, 3:29
bufFG2:37Rian Lindell 40 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 7 plays, 42 yds, 3:25
neFG11:47Stephen Gostkowski 28 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 11 plays, 66 yds, 5:49
bufTD5:38Fred Jackson 10 Yard Pass From Trent Edwards (Rian Lindell Kick is Good)
Drive info: 14 plays, 62 yds, 6:11
neTD2:10Benjamin Watson 18 Yard Pass From Tom Brady (Tom Brady Pass to Benjamin Watson For Two-Point Conversion is No Good)
Drive info: 11 plays, 81 yds, 3:26
neTD0:55Benjamin Watson 16 Yard Pass From Tom Brady (Tom Brady Pass to Randy Moss For Two-Point Conversion is No Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 31 yds, 1:06