ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Rex Ryan set the expectations high with his words this week. The Buffalo Bills didn't live up to them on Sunday.
That's the simplest way to explain what happened at Ralph Wilson Stadium, where an overheated Bills team lost its composure early, fell into an early hole and couldn't recover in a 40-32 loss to the New England Patriots.
"I think guys were really confident, it felt like we could get the job done today," running back LeSean McCoy said. "With the matchups, we felt good about our approach today. It’s just that I think we got overly hyped, and it kind of backfired."
Silly penalties -- whether it was safety Duke Williams taking a swing at a Patriots player or safety Aaron Williams taunting the Patriots after they kicked a successful extra point -- quickly added up for the Bills, who were flagged for six special-teams penalties in the first quarter and 14 times total in the game.
"We just came out too fired up, I believe," linebacker Nigel Bradham said. "That's what caused the penalties. We had way too many penalties."
"We were just too rowdy," cornerback Stephon Gilmore added. "If we would have just [played], then the whole game would have been different."
Give Tom Brady that sort of field position, and he'll carve up defenses. That's exactly what he did to the Bills. This group had the looks of an elite defense after it shut down Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts last week, but the Patriots' quick-strike, spread offense and Brady's precise passing proved too much for the Bills to handle. Overall, the Patriots gained 451 net yards passing.
Never did it appear that Buffalo had a unified plan for matching up with Rob Gronkowski (seven catches, 113 yards, one touchdown) or Julian Edelman (11 catches, 97 yards, two touchdowns). At one point, Gronkowski was streaking down the field with defensive end Jerry Hughes in coverage. At another point, Gronkowski proved too tough for rookie cornerback Ronald Darby to cover one-on-one.
The Bills' early hole -- they fell behind 21-7 early in the second quarter -- put Tyrod Taylor and the Bills' run-first offense in a spot where they weren't suited to succeed. Taylor threw three interceptions, and despite late improvement, he wasn't anywhere near consistent enough to go toe-to-toe with Brady in a passing battle. The Bills' new starting quarterback was also sacked eight times, several of which were the result of his indecisiveness.
Taylor gave the Bills' crowd something to cheer about on a late 24-yard touchdown pass that made it a one-possession game, but it proved too little, too late.
At least for this game, the Bills just couldn't live up to the hype.