The Buffalo Bills lost their week one match up against the New England 23-21 after a Stephen Gostkowski 35-yard field goal with five seconds to play. Here's three things to take from week one.
1. Third Down Conversions/Sustaining Drives
The Bills want to play an up-tempo game, which means the Bills will lose most of the time possession battles. But a long string of plays must accompany the up-tempo offense otherwise the Bills defense will be on the field most of the game, which was the case on Sunday.
They were only 4-13 on third down (31 percent) with four of their 14 drives ending in three and outs. And only one drive lasted more than six plays.
Center Eric Wood had this to say about the short drives: "I don’t think we’re going to win a lot of time of possession battles this year and we’re fine with that. We just need to run more plays...When we were able to put drives together, I felt like our tempo was great. When we do go three and out, our defense can be hung out to dry."
Tight end Scott Chandler said the key to sustaining drives will be the first first down.
"I think the biggest thing is getting the first [first down] of the drive," Chandler said, "then you start to get the defense on their heels...If we could’ve just sustained a drive or two in the second half there I think it would’ve been a different game."
2. They need running back C.J. Spiller to run past defenses like he did last season.
Head coach Doug Marrone put a lot of emphasis on winning the rushing battle before the game (but lost 158-136). Spiller was held to only 41 yards on 17 carries (2.4 average) with five catches for 14 yards with no touchdowns. His longest run of the game nine yards. The Patriots stacked the box against Spiller, but Marrone said the line didn't finish their blocks at times, and Spiller bounced a couple runs to the outside instead of hitting the hole. But Marrone wasn't worried about Spiller the rest of the season.
3. Penalties/Turnovers Hurt
Fumbles by Spiller and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin led to the first and second Patriot touchdowns respectively. Despite the two turnovers, they still won the turnover battle 3-2.
The Bills were penalized 10 times for 75 yards, and Marrone alluded to the yards the penalties negated.
"You have two penalties that negate about 55 yards of offense in critical situations where you’re going to get the ball to the other teams, on the other side of the 50," Marrone said.