Brady at his efficient best in beating BillsBy JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer Monday, Dec 27, 2010
Nothing’s happened during the tight end’s rookie season in New England to make him change his mind.
“He’s just as great as I though he was,” Gronkowski said, after his first trip home as an NFL player ended with two touchdown catches as part of 34-3 rout of the Bills on Sunday.
Brady finished with three touchdowns, and set the NFL record for most consecutive attempts without an interception, while efficiently helping the Patriots (13-2) clinch the AFC’s top seed.
It was Brady’s eighth straight game with two or more touchdowns, marked the seventh time the Patriots have scored 31 or more points, and he’s gone more than two months and 319 attempts since throwing an interception. In the process of going 15 of 27 for 140 yards passing, Brady passed Bart Starr (294 attempts) and Bernie Kosar (308) in the third quarter to add to his growing list of records.
“What’s my reaction? Well, I’m glad I’m not throwing interceptions,” Brady said.
What mattered more was helping the Patriots win their seventh straight to clinch the AFC’s top spot for the third time since 2003, and their eighth division title in 10 years.
“It never gets old,” Brady said. “We never get tired of winning.”
And the Patriots are certainly familiar with beating the Bills. New England beat their AFC East rivals for the 15th straight time and improved to 20-1 in their past 21 meetings.
This one proved all too easy. Entering the game with four wins in their past six, the Bills (4-11) closed their home schedule in sloppy fashion by committing seven turnovers—five by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes) alone.
“I killed the team today,” said Fitzpatrick, who lost two fumbles and threw three interceptions in going 18 of 37 for 251 yards. “You can’t do that on any day when you play a team that is that good and that efficient on offense.”
Coach Chan Gailey said the entire team was to blame in a game that was over by halftime when the Patriots built a 24-3 lead.
“We played bad,” Gailey said. “Turnovers, penalties, not stopping the run, every bit of it. Everybody on the whole team, all of us take the blame for that.”
It was a familiar outcome for a Bills team that’s now been outscored by New England by a whopping 435-163 in its past 15 meetings.
Turns out the only thing that could slow the Patriots was Mother Nature. Bad weather in the northeast prevented the team from traveling home. The Patriots were instead forced to bus an hour east to spend the night in Rochester, as most hotels in the Buffalo-area are booked due to the city hosting the World Junior Hockey Championships.
That’s fine with Patriots players, even though they had already missed Christmas with their families after traveling to Buffalo on Saturday.
“We got a ‘W,’ and that’s our biggest present, being able to come into the locker room and being able to see that hat and T-shirt,” nose tackle Vince Wilfork(notes) said. “That’s something to be proud of.”
Just as significant for Wilfork was how the Patriots’ young defense is beginning to jell.
“I know a lot of people counted us out. But all year, we knew what we had in this locker room,” he said. “This football team is getting better. We’re not where we want to be by any means, but we’re definitely moving forward.”
They went ahead for good on Danny Woodhead’s(notes) touchdown, which came after linebacker Gary Guyton(notes) forced Fitzpatrick to fumble on Buffalo’s third possession. And the Bills’ string of turnovers didn’t end until the last time the Bills touched the ball—and then gave it away with 1:51 left, when C.J. Spiller(notes) muffed a punt.
Brady broke Kosar’s record with his 17th attempt early in the third quarter, when Gronkowski dropped a pass over the middle at the goal line. The two hooked up on the next play for an 8-yard touchdown.
“Yeah, mad excited,” Gronkowski said of playing before so many family members and friends that he lost track. “It’s a dream come true. I would’ve never thought this was going to happen when I was back in high school and college. This is amazing.”
So is Brady.