ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (Oct. 22, 2006) -- Tom Brady and the New England Patriots have become so accustomed to winning -- and particularly against Buffalo -- that even lopsided victories are no longer satisfying.
Take Brady, the perfectionist, for example: The Patriots had just routed the Bills 28-6, a game in which Brady methodically engineered four scoring drives. And yet the quarterback was kicking himself for a pass that he insists he shouldn't have thrown.
"Stupidity by me," Brady said.
He wasn't referring to an interception or incompletion. Rather, Brady was discussing a 5-yard pass on the run that found Doug Gabriel open in the end zone with the game already out of reach in the fourth quarter.
"Lucky," Brady said.
The Patriots (5-1) remain atop the AFC East after Corey Dillon scored two touchdowns rushing, Brady added two TD passes, and a stingy defense did the rest to get New England off to its second-best start since 1997.
And the Patriots continued their domination of Buffalo, winning their seventh straight and 12th in their last 13 meetings against the AFC East rivals. The Bills (2-5) continue to unravel, having lost three straight headed into their bye week.
"Our performance out there was embarrassing," linebacker London Fletcher-Baker said. "It's just not good football. ... It's the same mistakes over and over again."
New England has won three straight since a 17-7 loss to Denver, and five straight on the road, a stretch in which the Patriots have outscored their opponents 156-64.
"I feel pretty good right now just because we won the game," said linebacker Rosevelt Colvin. "But I do feel we can get better."
It's hard to imagine how, considering the Patriots, refreshed from a bye week off, had the game in hand by the end of the first quarter when Dillon scored his second touchdown on a 12-yard run to put New England ahead 14-3.
The defense then did its part, forcing three turnovers and limited the Bills to 256 yards offense and 13 first downs -- and only four in the second half.
Brady, who finished a modest 18 of 27 for 195 yards passing and no turnovers, sealed the win with two scoring drives in the second half, including a 35-yard TD pass to Chad Jackson.
The Bills defense couldn't get the Patriots off the field, allowing their opponents to convert 8 of 15 third-down attempts. And then there were the penalties.
The most undisciplined came when Buffalo defensive end Chris Kelsay was penalized for unnecessary roughness for delivering a late hit on Brady, who had given himself up by falling to the turf on third down at the Bills 24. The Patriots capitalized on the next play when Dillon scored his second touchdown.
Buffalo's offense wasn't much better.
J.P. Losman went 16 of 25 for 193 yards passing, but committed three turnovers, two fumbles and an interception. The second-year starter has now committed eight turnovers, including five interceptions, in his past three games.
"We have to grow up," said guard Chris Villarrial. "I'm frustrated and the team is frustrated."
"It was a long day," added coach Dick Jauron. "We continued to make foolish errors that really don't give us much of a chance to win the game."
So much for how well the Bills competed in a 19-17 loss at New England to start the season.
Then again, this followed the pattern of how the annual two-game series has gone over the previous three years: Buffalo competing with New England in the first meeting and then getting blown out in the second.
The Bills are 1-3 in the first game over that stretch, outscoring New England 81-71. The Patriots have responded to win each of the four rematches, outscoring the Bills by a combined 150-36, including a 35-7 win last year.
"This is certainly what we expected to see this week," Patriots safety Rodney Harrison said. "Coming off a bye week, a lot of times you can have disappointment. Our emphasis this week was the start fast."
Notes: Patriots DL Richard Seymour did not return after hurting his left elbow late in the second quarter. Seymour said he expects his elbow to feel sore Monday, but didn't know whether he'd be able to practice this week. ... Patriots starting safety Eugene Wilson hurt his leg in the third quarter and did not return. Coach Bill Belichick did not provide an update on either players' condition. ... Bills DE Ryan Denney did not return after hurting his right hamstring in the first quarter. ... Rian Lindell accounted for Buffalo's only points, hitting 46- and 40-yard field goals.