Steve Grogan threw two touchdown passes in the game's first eight minutes and the New England Patriots beat the Buffalo Bills, 21-17, today.
Grogan hit wide receiver Stephen Starring for a 65-yard touchdown pass on the game's second play and threw three yards to Derrick Ramsey for a score six minutes later.
Grogan completed 10 of 22 passes for 227 yards; the Bills' Joe Ferguson was 27 of 40 for 263 yards.
But the Bills switched to an eight-man defensive front in the second half and it was a formation the Patriots weren't prepared for.
"We hadn't seen it and we weren't ready for it," said Grogan. "We found out we've got to be more flexible in those situations."
The Bills had spotted the Patriots a 21-0 lead, but after Ken Johnson recovered Grogan's fumble late in the fourth quarter, Ferguson threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Tony Hunter that made it 21-17 with four minutes left.
But the defense could not get the ball back, and New England was able to run out the clock.
The Patriots wasted no time establishing themselves both on offense and defense.
On the second play after the opening kickoff, Grogan found second-year wide receiver Starring streaking down the sideline and New England was up, 7-0, before the game was even a minute old. Then the defense shut down the Bills' offense on three straight plays.
Tony Collins keyed the drive to the Patriots' second touchdown with 34 yards in six carries before Grogan spotted halfback Ramsey open to make it 14-0 with just over half the first quarter left.
The Bills mounted a drive from their 29 to the New England five but, on fourth and one, halfback Greg Bell was stopped for no gain.
Grogan and Collins also figured in the Patriots taking a 21-0 lead in the second quarter. Grogan passed to Collins for a 19-yard gain, then Starring made a 35-yard reception to set up Collins' four-yard sweep into the end zone.
After missing on one field goal try, Joe Danelo got the Bills onto the scoreboard with a 27-yard kick late in the second quarter and the Bills regrouped as the second half began. Ferguson found tight end Hunter and wide receiver Byron Franklin for receptions that helped bring the ball from Buffalo's 22 to the New England eight.
Newly acquired wide receiver Preston Dennard then made a snappy catch in the back of the end zone to put the Bills 11 points behind.
They looked to make the game even closer with a time-consuming drive that carried into the fourth quarter. But after getting to the New England 13, Franklin fumbled on the 10 after a short pass. He atoned for that mistake with his fourth-quarter touchdown catch, but it proved too late.