The Patriots twice went for it on fourth down against the Bills. Both times quarterback Tom Brady attempted a pass deep down the field, and both fell incomplete.
The first play came with about six-and-a-half minutes remaining in the second quarter and the Patriots up, 21-7. It was fourth-and-one, and the Patriots had a plan to hit running back Dion Lewis for a quick gain. Brady faked a jet sweep to Danny Amendola and rolled to his right, looking for Lewis, but the 5-foot-8 back was blanketed by defensive end Manny Lawson.
Brady held onto the ball and fired on the run with defensive end Mario Williams on his heels. Julian Edelman was the intended receiver but the attempt sailed over his head.
"I was trying to throw it to Dion in the flat," Brady told WEEI's Dennis and Callahan show on Monday, "and the coverage that was on the receiver came off, and we were expecting him to continue running, and he got covered up. And then I just kind of drifted and saw if I could get someone free. And Julian [Edelman] was back there and I just overthrew him.
"It was just kind of one of those risk/reward plays. I was happy that we were being really aggressive; we were aggressive all day. But we didn’t make that play. Had we got it, it would have obviously felt a lot better, but we just didn’t quite execute as well as we could have."
A similar situation popped up for Brady in the fourth quarter. It was fourth-and-one at the Bills 41, and he faked a hand-off to running back LeGarrette Blount, the heavy formation -- with offensive lineman Shaq Mason playing fullback -- helping to sell the fake. Edelman beat Bills corner Stephon Gilmore down the middle of the field, but Brady overthrew Edelman's out-stretched arms.
In that instance, with just over eight minutes remaining in the game and the Patriots up 37-19, they felt the gamble was worth taking. But the way the rest of the quarter played out had some questioning their aggressive approach in hindsight.
The Bills scored on their next possession to pull within 12 points of their guests. Then they strip-sacked Brady early in the Patriots next drive, and two plays later Tyrod Taylor found Sammy Watkins for another touchdown to pull within five with just over four minutes remaining.
The Patriots got a field goal from Stephen Gostkowski and a pick from Logan Ryan to seal the game later in the quarter.