In their most dominating performance of the season, the Patriots rolled over the Buffalo Bills 29-6 on Sunday night when Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes, Adam Vinatieri kicked five field goals, and Corey Dillon rushed for 151 yards.
All that after outfielder Johnny Damon scampered onto the field, pitcher Curt Schilling was driven out on a golf cart following his ankle surgery, and Red Sox owner John Henry led them onto the field carrying the World Series trophy in a pregame ceremony.
“Hey, we could use him. We could definitely use him,” Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour said after Damon’s energetic entrance.
The Bills could use Damon—and a lot more—after a weak performance stopped their 3-1 surge.
They were outgained 428 yards to 125 and trailed in first downs, 25-8, and time of possession, 41:22 to 18:38. Drew Bledsoe fell to 1-5 against his former team, going 8-for-19 for 76 yards.
“Coming in here, we knew we had a tremendous challenge,” Bledsoe said. “Playing against the world champs, they played like it.”
Bledsoe even tossed one interception to a player he had thrown 12 touchdown passes to while both were with the Patriots, Troy Brown, who played some cornerback because of injuries at that position.
“I don’t think Drew saw me so he threw it to (Eric Moulds) and I was there to make the pick,” Brown said. Bledsoe “is my boy. I mean, I would like to see him do well (but) I do not want to see him come in here and beat us.”
The Patriots (8-1) put together their second straight impressive performance after their NFL record 21-game winning streak, including playoffs, ended on Oct. 31 at Pittsburgh. They moved two games ahead of the New York Jets in the AFC East.
Just four days before that loss to the Steelers, Boston won the World Series with its eighth straight postseason victory. So in New England’s first home game since then, owner Henry led a six-man Red Sox contingent onto the field.
Then Brady, the MVP in New England’s two Super Bowl championships in three years, took charge.
“It’s a big first half by us. I wish we could continue it in the second half,” Brady said.
The Patriots led 20-0 at halftime, scoring on four of their five possessions, while Buffalo (3-6) punted three times and was intercepted twice. The Bills scored only on a punt return—a poor follow up to their strong 22-17 win over the Jets.
“Before the game,” said Bills safety Lawyer Milloy, a former Patriot, “if you had asked anyone in this locker room if we thought we’d go out and play like that, I think we would have laughed at you.”
Even Willis McGahee, who sparked the Bills to three wins in their previous four games, couldn’t do much as Buffalo had to focus on the pass to try to come back from the early deficit. McGahee rushed for more than 100 yards in those victories, his only previous pro starts, but was held to 37 yards on 14 carries by the Patriots.
“They had a great game plan,” he said. “We couldn’t get the running game going. So it was hard to pass.”
His recent success helped Bledsoe by providing offensive balance, but the quarterback was his usual inept self against his former team, while Brady improved to 7-1 against the Bills and was 19-for-35 for 233 yards. But he credited Dillon, who had his fourth straight game of over 100 yards rushing.
“You give it to Corey and he keeps running the way he does, you’re going to keep giving it to him,” Brady said.
Buffalo nearly dug itself a huge hole on the first play when Terrence McGee fielded the kickoff at his 1-yard line, stepped into the end zone and downed the ball. Officials ruled his momentum carried him in and put the ball at the 1. But after coach Mike Mularkey challenged, a replay showed only one foot landed at the 1 and the other was in the end zone, so the Bills got the ball at the 20. But they ended up punting.
The Patriots, still rolling after last Sunday’s 40-22 win at St. Louis, took a 6-0 lead on field goals of 27 and 24 yards by Vinatieri. On their next series, they marched 75 yards on 11 plays, capped by Brady’s 13-yard pass to a wide-open and leaping David Patten.
Vinatieri added field goals of 45 and 37 yards in the fourth quarter.
In the last three quarters, the Patriots outgained the Bills 343-61 and led them in first downs 20-3 and time of possession 34:31 to 10:29. … Bills rookie quarterback J.P. Losman saw his first NFL action on Buffalo’s last series, He completed one pass for five yards and had the other intercepted. … The Patriots scored first for the 17th straight game, including the regular season and playoffs, one shy of the NFL record. … Vinatieri became the second Patriots player to score 1,000 points, reaching 1,010 with 17 on Sunday. Gino Cappelletti has 1,130.