Rapid Reaction: Patriots 25, Bills 24

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Could you have fathomed this?

Unless you hail from the 716 area code, I'm pretty sure you didn't believe it was possible the Buffalo Bills could hang with the New England Patriots for 58 minutes.

In fact, you probably have to be from the 716 to have seen the miserable end coming.

Only the Bills could have lost the way they did Monday night.

The Buffalo Bills looked like they were going to open their season with a shocking victory in Gillette Stadium. They were up by 11 points deep into the fourth quarter. Then they choked.

Leodis McKelvin fielded a kickoff in the end zone with 2:06 to play and brought it out. Patriots safety Brandon Merriweather stripped him. The Patriots recovered. Brady threw a 16-yard strike to tight end Benjamin Watson, who made a phenomenal catch for a heart-pounding 25-24 triumph.

It's the same exact score the Bills lost to the Dallas Cowboys by after blowing a huge lead on "Monday Night Football" in October 2007.

Brady made his comeback a memorable one. Playing in his first game in a year and a day, he completed 39 of 53 passes for 378 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

The Bills, who seemed to be in such a state of chaos mere days ago, somehow composed themselves to nearly knock off Las Vegas' favorites to win the Super Bowl.

Buffalo coach Dick Jauron handed the playbook to new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt 10 days earlier to jolt a listless group that had struggled mightily in the preseason.

The first unit failed to score a touchdown on 16 preseason possessions, but it looked OK on opening night. The Bills caught some breaks -- defensive end Aaron Schobel returned Brady's lone mistake for a touchdown -- and played well aside from some offensive line sloppiness.

Bills quarterback Trent Edwards looked sharp (15 of 25 for 212 yards and two touchdowns). The Bills were incredible when it came to converting third downs.

The loss ruined a great game by Buffalo running back Fred Jackson. He ran 15 times for 57 yards and made five catches for 80 yards and a touchdown.