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Patriots win Bledsoe Bowl II; remain atop AFC East
Foxboro, MA (Sports Network) - Tom Brady completed 15-of-27 passes for 183
yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, as New England defeated
Buffalo, 27-17, to spoil Drew Bledsoe's first trip back to Foxboro since being
traded to the Bills in the off-season.
Antowain Smith ran for 68 yards and a score for the Patriots (8-5), who stay
atop the AFC East, one-half game ahead of Miami, which hosts Chicago on Monday
night. David Patten and Donald Hayes also scored, as New England won for the
fifth time in its last six outings.
"We haven't done anything with eight (wins)," New England center Damien Woody
said. "We piled up a few things but nothing is guaranteed and if we don't
handle business over the next three weeks, we could be on the outside looking
Bledsoe, who was a No. 1 overall selection by New England in 1993, threw for
328 yards and two touchdowns, but tossed a season-high four interceptions for
the Bills (6-7), who have been outscored 65-21 in two losses to the Patriots
"It was nice to be appreciated by the fans, but it certainly wasn't the way I
envisioned it," Bledsoe said. "I wanted to walk off that field victorious."
Eric Moulds caught two touchdown passes and finished with eight
receptions for 63 yards, as Buffalo fell for the fourth time in five games to
severely hinder its playoff hopes.
The Bills outgained the Patriots 390-275 in total offense, but New England won
the turnover battle 5-0 and outscored Buffalo, 17-0, off mistakes.
"We needed to come up with a takeaway of our own," Bills head coach Gregg
Williams said. "We can't withstand five turnovers, offensively. We gotta come
up with something like that to counter it in the special teams or defense."
The Patriots, who had 10 days off after a 20-12 Thanksgiving Day victory over
Detroit, scored on their first four possessions to take a 20-0 lead into the
intermission and they cruised to the victory.
On the first offensive play of the game, Brady connected with Deion Branch on
a 41-yard reception to the Buffalo 22. Five plays later, the Brady/Branch duo
struck again, for what appeared to be a 15-yard touchdown pass. However, a
holding penalty negated the score and New England settled for a 39-yard field
goal by Adam Vinatieri.
After the Bills were forced to punt, the Patriots got the ball back and took a
10-0 advantage courtesy of a 10-yard touchdown catch by Patten. Brady hit
Patten for his career-high fifth touchdown reception on a quick pass and
Patten carried his defender into the end zone. The eight-play, 86-yard drive
was highlighted by a 33-yard catch by Christian Fauria.
Bledsoe was intercepted on the next Buffalo drive as Richard Seymour hauled in
a tipped pass and ran it six yards down to the Buffalo nine. Two plays later,
Hayes scored on a nine-yard pass in the left corner of the end zone for the
The Bills showed life on their next possession driving 90 yards, but came up
empty as Tebucky Jones intercepted a Bledsoe pass in the end zone.
"It's frustrating," Bledsoe said. "If I could have one back, it would be the
one in the end zone. It was a big mistake. I should have thrown it out of the
end zone. I think at that point we could have gotten it back to 17-7. It would
have made it an entirely different ballgame."
New England took advantage of the turnover and on the ensuing drive went
ahead 20-0 on a 46-yard field goal by Vinatieri. In fact, the Patriots
had their second touchdown of the game called back earlier in the drive due
to an illegal shift which nullified a trick play that saw Kevin Faulk throw a
pass to Brady.
On their first two drives of the third quarter the Bills posted 10 points
within 3:31 of each other to trim the Patriots lead to 20-10. Mike Hollis got
the Bills on the board with a 26-yard field goal that was aided by a 17-yard
pass play to Peerless Price.
After a three-and-out by New England, which failed to gain a first down in the
third quarter, the Bills completed the ensuing drive with a 12-yard touchdown
pass to Moulds on one-on-one coverage with Ty Law. The score, which came
with 4:15 to play in the third, was set up by a 42-yard catch by Josh Reed.
Each team added a touchdown in the fourth quarter. With 10:06 remaining, Smith
ran in from four yards out to put the Patriots ahead 27-10. The score was set
up by when Otis Smith stripped Price of the ball at the Buffalo 28-yard line.
With only 1:05 to play, Moulds hauled in a one-handed touchdown pass from one-
yard out to cut the New England margin to 27-17.
Buffalo followed with an onside kick and recovered it, but the ball was re-
kicked since a Buffalo player touched it before the mandatory 10 yards. The
Bills failed on the next attempt to get the ball back, sealing the win for
New England has won the past five meetings, including a 38-7 game on November
Bledsoe set a team record with his seventh straight game of 300-plus yards
through the air. Bledsoe, who was traded for a 2003 first-round pick, tossed
four interceptions for the first time since December 19, 1999 at Philadelphia.
12/08 21:53:54 ET
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