ORCHARD PARK, NY -- Sharing some thoughts at halftime of the Patriots' road game against the Bills, with New England trailing 14-7:
A nightmare second quarter has the Patriots trailing at intermission.
Two fumbles -- one by Rob Gronkowski and one by Wes Welker -- were big plays. These are two of the Patriots' best players on offense. They simply have to hold on to the ball, no matter how much the Bills are coming after it.
Meanwhile, the Patriots forced three turnovers in the first half (Devin McCourty INT, Jerod Mayo INT and Brandon Spikes forced fumble recovered by Vince Wilfork) and couldn't turn them into points. The forced fumble saved points at the end of the second quarter, but the inability to score off the first two turnovers is the difference in the game right now.
Kicker Stephen Gostowski's job security could be in jeopardy after misses from 49 and 42 yards. In Week 2, Gostkowski couldn't convert a game-winner from 42 yards against the Cardinals. Big concern there.
Bills tight end Scott Chandler is hurting the Patriots, and in a surprising development, has looked like the best tight end on the field. He's out-Gronking the Patriots' Gronkowski. Some of it is a credit to Chandler, but the Patriots can also tighten up the coverage.
From a strategy perspective, the running game let the Patriots down in the second quarter. The Bills are matching a nickel defense (or a dime if Bryan Scott is considered a safety) against the team's two-TE package. The inability to pick up 1 yard in that matchup, setting up Gostkowski's 42-yard miss, was notable. The Patriots have run it well, just not situationally.
On the injury front, linebacker Dont'a Hightower left with a hamstring injury in the first quarter and has not returned.
If there is a positive for the Patriots outside of creating turnovers, it's their punt team. They've twice pinned the Bills in tight. Then again, if the biggest positive is the punt team, that's saying something.
The Patriots get the ball to start the second half.