There were plenty of points in the first half of the Patriots-Bills game when it looked like the Patriots might be able to run away with things.
They didn’t, though, and lead just 17-14 at the half despite stifling the Bills offense for the first 28 minutes of the game. Turnovers are the root of the Patriots’ predicament.
Da’Norris Searcy returned a Stevan Ridley fumble 75 yards for the first Bills touchdown and E.J. Manuel followed a Justin Rogers interception with his first NFL touchdown pass just before halftime to keep the Bills within a score. The interception came after a Tom Brady pass bounced off tight end Zach Sudfeld’s hands, an unhappy reminder that Rob Gronkowski isn’t on the field on Sunday.
The Patriots might not have Danny Amendola for the second half, either. He pulled up short during a play late in the second quarter and has aggravated the groin injury that limited him in practice this week. The team calls his return questionable.
Manuel had thrown for just 40 yards before the Rogers pick, but hit two straight passes for 37 yards to get the Bills into the end zone. It was a high ending note for an offense that struggled to move the ball against the New England defense and shot itself in the foot with too many penalties. That could have put them out of reach, but it didn’t and that should make for an interesting second half in Buffalo.
UPDATE 3:08 p.m. ET: Amendola returned to the game in the third quarter.