The New England Patriots opened their 2013 season against the Buffalo Bills on the road Sunday. This was the first opening game in six years that had neither Wes Welker, nor Rob Gronkowski available for Tom Brady to throw to. Thankfully for Brady, Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman managed to step up and make some spectacular catches, while running back Shane Vereen saw the majority of the ground action that day.
The Patriots were fortunate in the first quarter as the Bills committed a number of bad penalties and a potential fumble by running back Stevan Ridley was ruled down by contact. A C.J. Spiller fumble, however, was recovered by New England and subsequently turned into a Tom Brady touchdown pass to wide receiver Julian Edelman. The Pats would add a field goal to the mix before the end of the quarter, giving them a 10-0 lead.
The second quarter saw Stevan Ridley get the ball knocked loose again, this time deep in Buffalo territory. The ball was recovered by Bills safety Da'Norris Searcy and run back 74 yards for a defensive touchdown. The Patriots would force a turnover of their own on the Bills next posession as Kyle Arrington knocked the ball loose and veteran Rob Ninkovich managed to recover it. The Pats took advantage of the situation to get the ball down the field and score another touchdown. The Pats quickly managed to get the ball back, only to turn the ball over a second time, this one an interception that bounced off the hands of rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld. E.J. Manuel took advantage of the mistake and managed to complete a touchdown pass to Robert Woods, bringing the score to 17-14 Patriots at the half.
On the first possession of the second half, the Bills managed an 80 yard drive down the field, capped off by an 18 yard touchdown pass to receiver Stevie Johnson, which gave the Bills their first lead of the game, 21-17. That also turned out to be the last offense the Bills were able to muster as they went managed only 73 yards and three first downs on their final five drives.
The Patriots did not manage another touchdown, but they did managed to get Stephen Gostkowski in field goal range two more times. The first time with just under 11 minutes to play in the fourth quarter. The second on the Pats final drive of the game for a 35 yard attempt with only 5 seconds left on the clock. The Patriots managed to stop the Bills return after the kickoff and came away with a the 23-21 victory, a much closer game than anyone but the most optimistic Bills fan would have expected.
Turnovers and penalties certainly helped the Patriots, as they manged two fumble recoveries on defense, setting up 14 of their points. Additionally, the Bills managed to be penalized 10 times for a total of 75 yards. Danny Amendola had fans worried early on, as he seemed to aggravate the groin pull he suffered in the preseason, but still came back onto the field later in the game to make some incredible plays. After the game, it was announced that Shane Vereen had broken his hand during the game and would miss "a few weeks," according to a report from The Boston Globe.