This story is from BostonGlobe.com, the only place for complete digital access to the Globe.
New England got on the scoreboard first, aided by a great 41-yard fingertip catch by Gronkowski, who has had some of his best games in his hometown and was playing with a hip problem.
The first Patriots turnover came a short time later, with Wilfork tipping a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass at the line of scrimmage that Jerod Mayo made a nice play to pull in. Despite getting the ball at midfield, the offense went three-and-out.
The offense also wasn’t able to put points on the board after McCourty’s first interception, early in the second quarter. McCourty grabbed a deep pass intended for T.J. Graham that Fitzpatrick left a bit short.
Taking over at Buffalo’s 42, Bolden gained 12 yards on first down but the possession went no further and Stephen Gostkowski missed a 49-yard field goal wide right.
Gostkowski, who missed the potential game-winning kick against Arizona in Week 2 but bounced back nicely against the Ravens, also missed a 42-yard field goal in the second quarter.
The Bills scored after their own forced fumble, when safety Jairus Byrd drove the ball out of Gronkowski’s hands and fell on the loose ball. Fitzpatrick needed one play to tie the game, finding tight end Scott Chandler in the right third of the end zone at 9:43 of the second.
Buffalo scored again before halftime, after Gostkowski’s second missed field goal, with Fitzpatrick again connecting with Chandler.
Chandler left the game in the fourth quarter after he was leveled by Spikes during McCourty’s interception return.
The Bills had a golden opportunity to start the third quarter up by two touchdowns after a Welker fumble in New England territory. But on second and goal from the 4, C.J. Spiller, who was playing in spite of a shoulder he injured just a week earlier, got the ball and had it knocked loose by Spikes. Wilfork got the recovery.
“I think it was huge,” Mayo said of the momentum swing caused by the turnover. “We weren’t really playing our game and we were only down  points. We had a lot of confidence and that never wavered in this locker room.”
Buffalo scored on its first possession of the second half, but New England scored on seven straight possessions to make it a blowout.
“We felt like we missed a lot of good opportunities in the first half,” Belichick said. “We had the ball down [in Buffalo territory] and didn’t take advantage of it; we got some turnovers and weren’t able to put points on the board. Fortunately in the second half, we were able to capitalize on it. I think we just played and executed a little better.”
The potential crisis of a three-game losing streak averted, things don’t get any easier for the Patriots in the coming weeks.
Asked when he’ll start taking a better look at Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ offense with Denver in Foxborough on Sunday, Belichick smiled and said, “In about 20 minutes.”