Patriots

Patriots

FOXBORO - Rex Ryan got the Patriots on an off night. Sure, he and his Bills team had something to do with that, but the Patriots just weren't themselves on offense.

Unfortunately, the Bills were themselves.

Buffalo could not take advantage of a Patriots team that looked beatable Monday night at Gillette Stadium, and instead walked off the field thinking about what could have been in a 20-13 loss.

Whether it was turnovers (Leodis McKelvin coughed up the football on a punt return in the third quarter), missed opportunities to score (LeSean McCoy lost a football in the end zone and Dan Carpenter missed a field goal), missed tackles (Corey Graham got stiff-armed by James White on his way to the end zone) or failure to convert on third down (the Bills were 3-for-15), this was a game that may have gotten away.

Tom Brady wasn't able to sling the football around, but he did just enough - and his defense took care of the rest.

"Obviously, tough game," Ryan said. "No question about it. We knew it was going to be a tough game. That's an outstanding football team we played. They proved it again tonight. The difference is they made some big plays. They get a big turnover. They get a touchdown pass, we just gotta make a tackle there. So we knew we are a better football team, but we just weren't good enough. We're not quite there."

The outcome had Ryan singing a familiar tune after the game, once again having no choice but to bow down to the eventual AFC East champions (possibly as soon as next week) after the game.

"But like always, we have come up short many times being here when you think you have them by the ropes," Ryan said. "But at the end of the day they find ways to win and that's what championship teams do. We're not at that level right now but I can promise you one thing we're going to work our tails off to get there."

Ryan's players knew this was a fate that they played a big part in determining.

The Patriots had no business scoring a touchdown in the final minute of the first half. McCoy had a sure touchdown in the end zone before Devin McCourty got a hand in and knocked the ball out. That forced a fourth down, of which Carpenter hit the right upright on a field goal attempt.

With 48 seconds and three timeouts to work with, Brady took the Pats 62 yards on six plays, capped off by White's 20-yard touchdown reception. That's essentially a 14-point swing going back to McCoy's drop.

"We made mistakes. We had mishaps and things went against us," McKelvin said. "They capitalized off those mistakes. That is what happens. Coming into halftime we thought, 'Don't give up points going into halftime.' We got them where we got them. Brady came back out and he does what he does. He took them right down the field and got seven points. That is something we don't need. We need to go out and get our defense off the field and stop beating ourselves."