D You have to admire running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller for returning from injuries much earlier than most fans anticipated. I'm giving them extra credit for playing. Otherwise, this grade would have been a solid 'F'. Jackson averaged 2.2 yards a carry and lost a fumble with the Bills down by just a touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter. Spiller lost a goal-line fumble right before halftime.
D+ Ryan Fitzpatrick played a solid first half and made some pinpoint throws to Scott Chandler (two touchdowns) and Jackson (a 34-yard play up the left sideline). With the Bills obviously in pass-to-recover mode and with no run game to speak of, Fitzpatrick struggled after halftime. All told, he threw four interceptions (one tipped at the line of scrimmage) and badly missed a wide-open Stevie Johnson for what would have been a fourth-quarter touchdown. The Bills also allowed their first legit sacks of the season - three of them.
F The Patriots' offensive line was considered a liability going into the game, especially with four-time Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins out, yet they dominated the Bills all afternoon. Stevan Ridley gashed them in the first half, and undrafted rookie Brandon Bolden looked like Gale Sayers in the second half, finishing with an 8.6-yard average. Each rushed for 100 yards. They combined for three touchdowns.
C- The Bills' defense was assembled for the purpose of winning these kinds of games. They had their moments, forcing Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker to fumble after catches. Rookie cornerback Stephon Gilmore rocked Gronkowski to cause a dropped pass that would have been a touchdown on the first possession after halftime. But Brady was 22 of 36 for 340 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. They sacked him once.
C- The most notable special-teamer was new punter Shawn Powell, who made his NFL debut after replacing Brian Moorman this week. Powell dotted the sideline on a brilliant 54-yard punt in the third quarter, but shanked his next try 28 yards to the Patriots' 37-yard line. The Patriots went ahead for good on that possession. On the Patriots' 12 kickoffs or punts, the Bills managed one return.
D+ The offense managed to score 28 points and pulled off some sensational plays - Donald Jones' 68-yard touchdown, for instance - despite the losses of left tackle Cordy Glenn and right guard Kraig Urbik to ankle injuries. But what excuses did the defense have? Defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt had no answers for the Patriots' offense, which ran as it pleased and threw as it pleased, scoring touchdowns on six consecutive possessions in the second half.
A+ The Bills' run defense throttled Cleveland Browns rookie Trent Richardson last week and held the Chiefs' Jamaal Charles in check before that. You can even say they did well at times against the Jets' Shonn Greene on opening day. But the Patriots' running backs annihilated the Bills on Sunday. The Patriots amassed 247 rushing yards, averaged 6.2 yards a carry and rushed for 19 first downs, equaling the Bills' total number of first downs.
A- The Patriots' offense never seemed to be in trouble - not with Brady at the controls. Welker and Gronkowski had fumbles, but Brady made the rest look easy. In the second half, Brady completed 12 of his 18 throws for 199 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions or sacks. His touchdowns went to different receivers: Gronkowski, Danny Woodhead and Brandon Lloyd.
B+To get the Ralph Wilson Stadium crowd fired up, the Bills introduced their Jackson-Spiller backfield duo last out of the tunnel - not one after the other, but together. And those were about the only cheers they generated for the next three hours. The Patriots limited the Bills to 3.6 yards a carry, forced three fumbles and recovered two. The Bills had four rushing first downs.
B+The Patriots gave up four passing touchdowns, but the two thrown to Chandler were darts in traffic. There wasn't much the Patriots could have done. They were embarrassed on Jones' 68-yard catch and scamper. But the Patriots also came up with four interceptions and took advantage of a wobbly Bills offensive line by chasing Fitzpatrick around rather effectively.
D+New England's coverage units were superb, although it did little in the return game. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski struggled and might've cost his team a victory against a more lively opponent. Gostkowski missed a 49-yard attempt wide right and a 42-yard attempt wide left in the first half.
A What more could Patriots head coach Bill Belichick have done to prepare his team? With the Patriots in a weird place - back-to-back losses and a record below .500 for the first time since 2003 - they dominated the Bills in every offensive and defensive facet. The Patriots became only the second NFL team to have two 100-yard running backs, a 300-yard passer and two 100-yard receivers, forced six turnovers and committed one penalty.