This game was like most of the others in the last two months. It was pretty much out of hand by halftime as the New England Patriots (13-2) beat up their AFC East foes, the Buffalo Bills (4-11) for the 15th consecutive time, 34-3 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY on Sunday afternoon.
Buffalo jumped out to a 3-0 lead when on their first possession they had to settle for a 26 yard Ryan Lindell field goal after their opening drive stalled at the New England 8 yard line. That field goal may have been the lone bright spot for the Bills all day as they wouldn’t score again and would turn the ball over seven times helping the Patriots clinch the AFC East, the top seed and home field advantage for the AFC Playoffs.
The Patriots were lead by a relentless ground attack of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead. The day would also see Tom Brady set yet another NFL record as he makes a bid for his second NFL MVP Award. Brady has now attempted 319 consecutive passes without an interception, breaking the old record of 308 by Bernie Kosar that was set over two seasons. Brady has done this all since October 17th when he was last intercepted by the Baltimore Ravens on the final play of regulation.
Brady also threw three more TD passes to increase his NFL record to 8 consecutive games with at least 2 TD passes and no INTs. The team also did not turnover the ball to increase their NFL record to 7 consecutive games without a turnover.
This game saw Brady go 15 for 27 for only 140 yards the 3 TDs and no INTs. He threw two TD passes to, Buffalo native, rookie TE Rob Gronkowski, both were for 8 yards and one to the veteran TE Alge Crumpler for 4 yards.
But on this day it was the running game that worked for the Patriots. Woodhead, who busted a 29 yard run for the teams first score, had 93 yards on 13 carries while Green-Ellis, who was held scoreless, carried the ball 19 times for 104 yards. Overall the team had 217 yards rushing on 41 carries. It was their first 200 yard rushing game since Week 3 also against Buffalo.
The Patriots saw their scoring cleaned up by K Shayne Graham, who had field goals of 34 yards and 26 yards in harsh windy conditions. Graham, who has replaced the injured Stephen Gostkowski, has been very good in his time in New England and has made several kicks so far in bad weather conditions.
The final chapter in this Week 16 beat down were the Buffalo turnovers. New England took the ball away seven times, their previous high this year was 5 times and they are now plus 27 in the turnover differential. They have only given up the ball 9 times all year.
Two Bills accounted for all 7 giveaways, three times they intercepted Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. He was picked by S Patrick Chung in the second quarter; by LB Jerrad Page in the third quarter and by rookie LB Dane Fletcher in the end zone in the 4th quarter.
Fitzpatrick also had two fumbles as did RB C.J. Spiller. Fitzpatrick was stripped in the first quarter from behind by LB Gary Guyton and the ball was recovered by LB Jerod Mayo. And in the 3rd quarter he got stripped again, this time by CB Devin McCourty and it was recovered by DL Eric Moore. Mayo also got into the act when he forced the ball from Spiller in the third quarter and that fumble was recovered by Fletcher. The fourth and final fumble was on a Zoltan Mesko punt with less than a minute left in the game. Spiller muffed the punt and Patriots special teamer Sergio Brown recovered allowing New England to run out the clock.
One analyst said it best after the game. Right now the only team that can beat the New England Patriots is the Patriots themselves if they start making mistakes that they have avoided all season long. This, as Brady put it, is something special. We all know they want to erase the bad taste to the finish of 2007, they’re definitely motivated and they look really good right now as the road to Dallas goes through Foxboro.
Patriots at Bills Gamebook. This includes the box score, all the stats, play by play, drive charts and more.
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