Scoring touchdowns on their first seven offensive possessions and getting the eighth on a turnover, the Patriots won their 10th straight game, routing Buffalo 56-10 Sunday night. Brady and Moss, ready to rewrite the NFL record books, led the romp.
Brady was 31-for-39 for 373 yards with five TD passes, four to Moss, as New England became the 10th team since 1970 to start a season 10-0. The way they played, they appear unbeatable, and barring injury are an excellent bet to become the NFL’s first perfect team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
“Can this offense play any better? Of course we can,” said Moss. “With all 11 guys executing, there’s no telling what we can do.”
They’ve already done plenty.
It was the ninth time in 10 games New England won by more than 17 points and the ninth time it scored more than 34 points. The Patriots did it coming off a bye week after their only close game of the season, a 24-20 win in Indianapolis in which they came back from a 10- point deficit with less than 10 minutes left.
They also did it against a Buffalo team that came in 5-4 with four straight wins.
Brady, who has yet to throw fewer than three touchdown passes in a game, increased his TD passes to 38, just 11 short of Peyton Manning’s single-season record, set in 2004. Moss’ four TD catches gave him 16 for the season, six short of the record set by Jerry Rice in 1987.
“They are magnificent. They really are,” said Buffalo president Marv Levy, who coached the Jim Kelly-led Bills that went to four Super Bowls between 1990-93 and, at the time, set the standard for offensive excellence.
On New England’s last two offensive TD drives, the Patriots went for it on fourth down as the Buffalo crowd shouted obscenities clearly aimed at Belichick. Eckel, a fourth-string running back who also scored a rub-it-in TD against Dallas, was a part of the later scores.
After the first week of the season, Belichick was fined $500,000 after illegal tapes of the New York Jets’ defense were confiscated by the NFL. The team was fined $250,000 and will forfeit a first-round draft pick.
Since then, Belichick seems on a mission to demonstrate his team has no need to break the rules, several times seeming to run up the score. After their bye week, he drove his players even harder.
“Coach says he puts you out there to score when you touch it,” Brady said. “He doesn’t put you out there to punt.”
Belichick also is driving his stars hard, including Brady and Moss, who he described after the game as “pretty good players.”
“He put that humble pie on us. actually, it was a humble pie casserole. it wasn’t really a pie,” Moss said. “Just being the coach that he is and not letting us get too ahead of ourselves, coming off a bye.”
Brady said the same.
“It’s just the way he coaches,” Brady said of Belichick. “There’s never anything that’s good enough. After a while you just get sick of it. You say ‘enough, coach.’ We’ve taken beating after beating. It helps us get in the right frame of mind.”
Belichick finally took out Brady and Moss with a little less than 11 minutes left in this game. Perhaps because of the affection he expressed before the game for Buffalo coach Dick Jauron, he declined to go for a fourth-and-inches from the Buffalo 30 with 3:56 left, choosing to punt instead.
“I have no problem with that,” Jauron said of the earlier fourth-down tries. “It’s our job to stop it.”
The 56 points were the most by a road team since 1973. And the 46 points was the worst margin of defeat for Buffalo, three points worse than a loss to Baltimore in 1970.
It came on a night in which Buffalo fans were encouraged by a taped video on the message board before the game from Kevin Everett, the tight end who suffered a severe spinal injury in the opening game.
“One of the reasons this is a positive is that he’s continued to improve,” Jauron said of Everett. “He’s gotten better. It’s been a big plus for us and that he has gotten as far as he has.”
As with most New England games in 2007, this was no contest from the start after Randall Gay intercepted J.P. Losman’s pass on the fourth play from scrimmage to set up a 6-yard TD run by Laurence Maroney.
By halftime it was 35-7 on TD passes of 43, 16, 6 and 17 yards to Moss. The sixth score came on a 3-yard pass from Brady to Benjamin Watson on a fourth-down play at the start of third quarter.
After Rian Lindell’s 52-yard field goal made it 42-10, New England scored another touchdown on fourth-string running back Kyle Eckel’s 1-yard run after the Patriots once again had gone for it on fourth down, converting on a 3-yard pass from Brady to Moss.
Moss finished with 10 receptions for 128 yards.
“I’m just in a good situation,” said Moss, obtained for a fourth-round pick after two miserable seasons in Oakland. “I’m in a dream. It’s too good to be true. I’m with the Patriots.”
It was left for Losman to define the rout and the way New England has played just about everyone.
“We felt like we were playing catch-up all day,” he said. “But then everyone seems to feel like that against them.”
^Notes: Moss broke Stanley Morgan’s Patriots record of 13 touchdown catches in a season. He also became the first Patriot to go over 1,000 yards receiving since Troy Brown in 2001. … Maroney became the 19th member of the Patriots to score a touchdown this season. … Buffalo’s touchdown came on a 47-yard pass from Losman to Roscoe Parrish. Their deepest penetration in the game was to the New England 28 at the end of the game.