While it may seem a tad simplistic, you can argue that the difference between winning or losing the Pats' season opener was that we converted our 4th down opportunities (2) and the Bills did not (1). It's often these little things that loom large in the world of NFL "parity", and as Bill's defensive end Aaron Schobel aptly observed, "You can tell why they have won three of the last five Super Bowls. They know how to finish games." Indeed.
After falling behind 17-7 in a miserable first half, the Patriots' defense shut down the Bills completely for the final 30 minutes. And, on the other side of the ball, it was mostly the two-fisted running game of Maroney and Dillon (behind a resurgent offensive line) that wore down the Bills.
The momentum shift occurred in the third quarter, with the Bills poised to place the dagger of a 24-7 deficit into the Pats. But a fourth down stand deep in their own end reversed the tide. The crowd, the Pats, the media, even the Bills could sense the turnaround.
So, even on a day when Tom Brady was way less than perfect, their star wideout was a holdout, and their inspirational leader (Bruschi) was hurt, this team managed to eek out a win over a division rival that had its sights set on an upset.