ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Entering the final quarter of action in the regular-season opener, the Patriots trail the Bills 21-17. Passing along some quick-hit notes and observations from the third quarter.
1. Spikes, Amendola return. Linebacker Brandon Spikes (dehydration) and wide receiver Danny Amendola (groin) both returned to action in the second half. Amendola started the third quarter in the locker room, but eventually made it onto the field. He appears to be working through the same injury that slowed him late in preseason.
2. Bills march down for easy score. The Bills' offense started fast in the third quarter, as EJ Manuel threw his second touchdown of the day, this time hooking up with Steve Johnson. The Patriots' defense provided little resistance on the drive, with what looked like a coverage miscommunication on the scoring play.
3. Brady fumbles at goal line. The Patriots were attempting a fourth-and-goal from the Bills' 1-yard line on their opening drive of the third quarter, but Tom Brady was unable to cleanly field the snap, dropping the ball for his second turnover of the day. The Bills took over at their own 14-yard line.
4. Ridley not a factor. After fumbling in the second quarter, running back Stevan Ridley did not play during the third quarter. It was Shane Vereen doing the heavy lifting instead, and he made the most of his carries, rushing decisively and with terrific speed. LeGarrette Blount also got some work in the backfield.
5. Penalty box. The following Patriots were flagged for penalties during the third quarter: offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (false start).