No Huddle: Patriots-Bills postgame sound

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No Huddle: Patriots-Bills postgame sound

FOXBORO -- New England's 37-31 win over Buffalo had an odd aftertaste. Seeing as the Patriots won by the skin of their teeth, you'd think the locker room would be somewhat sober.

Not so. There was a lot of laughter and general joy.

On that note.

Cornerback Devin McCourty on whether he's more frustrated the game was so close or happy the Patriots won in the end:

DM: "The first thing I learned when I got to the NFL was that its hard to win each week. We never take that for granted. Its big to come out and get a win, especially against a division team. Like any other game, we have to go work on the things we need to work on. Well break the film down. We still have seven more games to go and its all going to depend on how good and how well we improve over this time. If we can keep improving all the way down to the end of the season and string good games together and string wins together, well be in good shape."

True. If the Patriots -- hypothetically speaking -- go back to the Super Bowl, nobody will be talking about the fact they almost lost to Buffalo in early November.

Unless they lost that Super Bowl. That's when every misstep from every game would get dredged up and used as testimony for what, in retrospect, was certain doom.

I'm exaggerating, but the point is, no one will deny it's better to avoid situations where late-game heroics are needed to secure a victory.

Press conferences sound like this on the other side.

Bills coach Chan Gailey on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Question transcribed verbatim: "This was a game where he seemed to be answering his critics and then, in the end, it was like Yeah, well, he is going to throw that late interception."
Brutal.

On to Gailey's answer:

CG: "Yep, I hate it for him. He played so good and then to have that happen. Ive got to help him. Ive got to make a couple better calls at the end there that might help him. So, if I do a little bit better of a job, then maybe he doesnt have to do that by himself."

Nice of Gailey to take the bullet, but Fitzpatrick can't completely duck and cover.

Yes, the numbers show a strong offensive effort for Buffalo: 481 total yards and 35 first downs, the most New England has ever allowed. Fitzpatrick completed 27 of 40 passes for 337 yards, two touchdowns, and a 99.7 rating. He and his arsenal executed 25 plays of 10 or more yards.

But that interception.

That's really what the effort boils down to in the end. When a team grants its quarterback a 59 million extension over six years, one that includes 24 million guaranteed, that team will generally frown upon game-winning touchdown passes thrown errantly to opposing defensive backs.

Generally.

Bills receiver T.J. Graham on missing the game-winning reception:

TG: It was a good pass, I should have made that play. I take blame for that one. That might be why I dont get on the field as much.

Graham is actually a strong candidate to take blame for the ball McCourty intercepted Sunday evening. From the looks of it, the 23-year old should have run across McCourty instead of toward the post. Whether or not Fitzpatrick should have fired anyway. well he did.

Maybe the play should have been drawn up for Donald Jones instead.

Buffalo's Jones on the receiving corps:

DJ: I have been saying all year as a receiving core we dont feel anyone can stop us on the outside. We were moving the ball pretty good. It was tough I didnt make that one catch and I take that one on myself. It is hard that I couldnt come down with that one. We dont feel anyone can stick with us on the outside and we will keep on playing that way.

We've already gone over Buffalo's offensive numbers, so Jones' confidence is not unfounded, even in the loss. What's interesting is the way the team attacked New England with many mid-range strikes to the outside. Opposing offenses have, to this point, had success gouging the secondary with 20-plus yard bombs over the middle.

Sunday was just the second time a team put 30 or more points on the Patriots (Baltimore scored 31 in its Week 3 win).

Fitzpatrick on the comparison between Houstons defense (which the Bill's couldn't score against last week) to the Patriots defense:

RF: "I dont want to get into the comparisons. You can look at the statistics and Houstons obviously a top five defense I really dont want to compare them."

The Harvard Guy did his homework: Houston has the No. 3 defense in the NFL, surrendering just 285.6 yards per game. Buffalo dug in for 304 total net yards against the Texans in Week 9, but went 0-for-3 in the red zone for just nine points.

On whether or not the Patriots defense is a top five defense:

RF: "If you look at the statistics theyre obviously not a top five defense, but these guys and what they do, they have a great offense and theyre going to make you earn it all the way down the field and I thought our guys until the very, very end there, made a lot of plays and unfortunately came up one play short in the end."

New England has the league's best offense at 430.3 yards per game. It has the 25th-ranked defense in terms of yards surrendered per game (382.1). It was fair of Fitzpatrick to not put that latter number alongside Houston's.

Nose tackle Vince Wilfork on the Bills rushing attack:

VW: They run the ball very well. We have two running backs like that and it is just very tough to defend those guys. Like I said, the biggest stat is to win. We can always get better and do things a little differently going forward."

How impressive is C.J. Spiller? Sunday, he looked like a much different back than the one New England saw in Week 4. Spiller started off hot in 2012 before injuring his shoulder against the Browns. He got snaps when the Patriots came to town, but had just 33 yards on eight carries. This weekend Spiller averaged 7.8 yards on his nine carries for 70 total. Fred Jackson tossed in another 80 yards on 16 carries.

The Patriots run defense was tied at seventh-best in the NFL coming into this week, giving up just 88.6 per contest. Buffalo's 162 team total was impressive.

Bills defensive end Mario Williams on the game in general:

MW: We got to play better, there are eleven guys on the field we all got to play better. Ive never seen that many penalties in a game. This is my first year playing with everybody as a group, but Ive never seen that many penalties. I dont know what was going on.
Someone was a little flag-happy.

The Bills were whistled for 14 accepted penalties for 148 yards. They were hit for 10 of them in the first half alone. One drive in particular saw Fitzpatrick go from a third-and-1 situation to third-and-21 after three straight flags.

And yes, some of the calls were questionable. I'm still waiting to hear how a guy can get hit for defensive pass interference when the ball is thrown 10-yards out of the end zone and the "intended receiver" is in a different zip code.

Head coach Bill Belichick on Stephen Gostkowski's kickoffs giving the defense good field positions today:

BB: "Right and we had good coverage on the couple they brought out and that was good. That was good. This is the best kickoff return team in the league great returner, punt and kickoff returner, and that was one of the things we needed to do: neutralize Leodis McKelvins production in those areas and we did a decent job of that."

I'm including this quote because kickers are people too, gosh darn it, and Gostkowski did have a great night.

McKelvin is indeed an explosive kickoff returner. Only two players in the league have a better return average than his 29.8 yards. But he had just one opportunity (21 yards) Sunday because six of Gostkowski's eight kickoffs were boomed for touchbacks.

Gostkowski was also a perfect 4-for-4 on extra points and 3-for-3 on field goals.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Reaction to weekend protests

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Reaction to weekend protests

0:41 - Tom Giles, Tom Curran, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley discuss the National Anthem protests across the NFL over the weekend and the reactions to players kneeling.

10:07 - Michael Hurley joins the BST crew to talk about the Patriots' thrilling last-minute victory over the Texans and how concerning the Patriots' issues on defense are.

18:13 - Michael Holley and Kayce Smith discuss Kyrie Irving and LeBron James' comments about one another during Media Day, including LeBron referring to Kyrie as "The Kid" instead of his name.

22:30 - Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Mookie Betts and Eduardo Nunez both leaving with injuries during the Red Sox's Monday night loss to the Blue Jays, and other concerns surrounding the team heading into the postseason.

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Prescott, Cowboys pull away to beat Cardinals, 28-17

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MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Prescott, Cowboys pull away to beat Cardinals, 28-17

GLENDALE, Ariz. , Dak Prescott kneeled with his teammates and team owner before the game, flipped head over heels for a touchdown in the first half and capped his night with a 37-yard TD pass that proved to be the game winner.

The Dallas Cowboys erased last week's ugly memory on Monday night, with their young quarterback leading the way.

"He just kept battling," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said.

"He kept making good decisions. Obviously he made some good plays, big-time throws, but as much as anything else he's got an amazing spirit and our players follow him."

The Cowboys (2-1), bouncing back from a 42-17 pummeling in Denver, began the game kneeling at midfield with owner Jerry Jones in a show of unity that followed widespread protests across the NFL of critical comments by President Donald Trump over the weekend.

After they kneeled, they stood and walked to the sideline and stood for the anthem.

"We planned and it was executed that we would go out and kneel," Jones said, "and basically make the statement regarding the need for unity and the need for equality."

Prescott, 13 of 18 for 183 yards, broke a 14-14 tie with a 37-yard scoring pass to Brice Butler with 11:52 to play.

"I immediately scrambled and when I scrambled Brice took the right angle and the right initiative going to the back of the end zone," Prescott said.

Arizona, with a spectacular catch by Larry Fitzgerald for 24 yards on a third-and-18 play, moved downfield but the drive stalled. Phil Dawson's 37-yard field goal cut the lead to 21-17 with 6:35 left.

Ezekiel Elliott, who gained 8 yards on nine carries against Denver and drew criticism for not hustling after a couple of late interceptions, was bottled up much of the game, but still gained 80 yards on 22 attempts, 30 on one play. He ran 8 yards for the final Cowboys touchdown.

The Cardinals (1-2), in their home opener, got a big game from Fitzgerald, who caught 13 passes for 149 yards, in the process moving ahead of Marvin Harrison into eighth in career receiving yards. The 13 receptions tied a career high.

"That's Fitz. It's Monday night," Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. "He's a money player. It was a great performance by him. It's a shame we couldn't play better around him."

Carson Palmer had a big first half, completed 15 of 18 for 145 yards and finished 29 of 48 for 325 yards and two scores. He was sacked six times, a career-high three by DeMarcus Lawrence.

The Cardinals dominated the first half statistically, but were deadlocked with the Cowboys at 7-7. Arizona had a 152-57 advantage in yards and dominated time of possession 19:34 to 9:41.

Arizona took the opening kickoff and went 82 yards in eight plays. Palmer was 5-for-5 on the drive, capped by a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jaron Brown.

Before Dallas even had a first down, Arizona mounted a nearly nine-minute drive but a touchdown pass to Brown was negated by a holding penalty and Phil Dawson's 36-yard field goal try was wide right. It was the third mid-range miss for the 41-year-old kicker this season.

And the miss left the door open for the Cowboys to get back in it.

Prescott scored on a 10-yard run, flipping head-first over the goal line to tie it at 7-7 with 3:33 left in the half.

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