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Patriots win eighth straight with 23-3 victory over Bills
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Rex Burkhead scored twice and the New England Patriots won their eighth straight by beating the Buffalo Bills 23-3, continuing their dominance over their AFC East rival.
Tom Brady went 21 of 30 for 258 yards and an interception, while improving to 27-3 over Buffalo and breaking Brett Favre’s NFL record for most wins by a quarterback against any one opponent. Favre had 26 wins over Detroit.
Brady needed to simply stand aside and let the Patriots’ rejuvenated rushing attack wear down the Bills in a game New England never trailed. Dion Lewis had 92 yards rushing and Burkhead had 78.
The Patriots built a 9-3 lead on Stephen Gostkowski’s three field goals in the first half, including a 50-yarder. Burkhead then took over in the second half by capping New England’s first two drives with 1- and 14-yard touchdown runs .
New England (10-2) won its 14th consecutive road game — the second-longest streak in NFL history — and reached double-digits in victories for the 15th consecutive season. New England also improved to 30-5 against Buffalo since Patriots coach Bill Belichick was hired in 2000.
The Bills (6-6) not only lost the game, but also lost starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who was carted off the sideline with a left knee injury in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. It’s unclear when Taylor was hurt, though he began favoring his left leg after being sacked by David Harris on Buffalo’s first play from scrimmage.
Nathan Peterman took over and oversaw a 13-play, 73-yard drive that stalled at the Patriots 1. The drive ended on fourth-and-goal when Peterman’s fade pass intended for Zay Jones was batted away by cornerback Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo’s former 2012 first-round draft pick. Gilmore spent his first five seasons in Buffalo before signing with the Patriots in free agency this past offseason.
Peterman finished 6 of 15 for 50 yards passing in his first appearance since throwing five interceptions in the first half of a 54-24 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 19.
The Bills’ offensive inconsistencies were once again apparent, which was a reason coach Sean McDermott took what he called a “calculated risk” to bench Taylor in favor of Peterman in the first place.
Taylor finished 9 of 18 for 65 yards and a costly interception. It happened on Buffalo’s opening possession with the Bills facing first-and-goal at the Patriots 6. Taylor double-pumped in the pocket before throwing a pass directly to linebacker Eric Lee at goal line.
The Bills managed four first downs and 102 yards of offense over their next six possessions before Taylor left the game.
Burkhead’s first touchdown capped a methodical 10-play, 70-yard drive. After Burkhead was stopped attempting to dive right on first-and-goal from the 1, he scored by diving to the left to put the Patriots up 16-3. Read
The game got chippy with multiple flags being thrown after Bills rookie Tre’Davious White intercepted Brady’s pass with 4:39 remaining.
Rob Gronkowski, the intended target, got up and lowered his shoulder to pound White, who was already on the ground. Patriots receiver Danny Amendola and Bills safety Micah Hyde had to be separated after exchanging shoves.
Then Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes was penalized for making contact with an official after the whistle.
Gronkowski, Amendola and Hyde were penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.
White was dazed after being hit. The rookie first-round pick got up slowly and was escorted into the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion. Read
The Bills introduced some trickery in a bid to spark their offense by using third-string quarterback Joe Webb in several wildcat formations.
Webb had three rushes for 27 yards, including a 22-yarder up the middle to open Buffalo’s fourth possession of the game. Five snaps later, facing second-and-10 from New England’s’ 37, Webb slightly overthrew a pass intended for Travaris Cadet, who was open deep over the middle. Read
New England’s nine points in the first half were the team’s fewest in a first half since a 16-0 loss to Buffalo on Oct. 2, 2016. That was a game Jacoby Brissett started for the Patriots in place of Brady, who was serving the fourth and final game of his “Deflategate” suspension.
New England’s 130 yards rushing in the first half were the most by the Patriots through two quarters since they had 141 in a 42-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 16, 2014. Read
Patriots: Play second of three straight on road at Miami on Dec. 11
Bills: Continue three-game homestand, hosting Indianapolis on Dec. 10.