Patriots 31, Bills 17
Tom Brady's arm and Richard Seymour's legs. You can't accuse the New England Patriots of running out of winning combinations.
The quarterback and the defensive end teamed up to secure the Patriots' record-tying 18th straight victory, 31-17, over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Brady's performance was no surprise, putting New England ahead for good, with a two-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Graham four minutes into the fourth quarter that broke a 17-17 tie. It marked the 16th time that Brady has led the Patriots to victory in the final 15 minutes or overtime.
Seymour's effort was much more breath-taking -- or, perhaps, breath-exerting.
With the Bills threatening to tie the game, the 310-pound lineman snapped up a fumble by Drew Bledsoe forced by Tedy Bruschi and ran it back 68 yards with 2 minutes 44 remaining to seal the victory.
"A lot of sucking air," Seymour said, laughing. "I just kept running."
And so appear to be the Patriots, who have not lost in 53 weeks, going back to a 20-17 defeat at Washington on Sept. 28, 2003.
In between, they've won 15 consecutive regular season games and three in the playoffs, including last February's Super Bowl victory over Carolina.
The Patriots tied a record held by four other NFL teams -- Chicago did it twice -- and also by the 1947-48 AAFC Cleveland Browns. They're the first to win 18 straight since Denver in 1997-98.
New England gets an opportunity to break the record by hosting Miami next weekend.
As impressive as it seems, the Patriots continue to play down the streak, calling it meaningless.
"We don't really think about that," Seymour said. "I know we need to play better than we played today. It's not going to be good enough coming down the stretch."
The Patriots' performance was good enough to beat a bumbling Bills team that's lost three straight to open this season, lacks confidence and continues to find ways to lose.
The Bills -- coming off consecutive 13-10 losses to Jacksonville and Oakland -- lost while squandering their best offensive performance of the season.
Bledsoe finished 18 of 30 for 247 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown to Eric Moulds. And the Bills also got a strong special teams effort as Terrence McGee ran back a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.
Any chance of a Buffalo victory ended with back-to-back plays on the Bills' last significant drive.
On third and two from the Patriots 16, running back Travis Henry was untouched when he fell face-first at the line of scrimmage for a one-yard loss.
On fourth-down, the Bills called for Bledsoe to run a naked bootleg. But the play was blown up before it had a chance to even develop when Bruschi got to Bledsoe and forced the fumble.
"Same old thing the last three games," Bills Coach Mike Mularkey said. "I'm not trying to make excuses, it's unacceptable. I'll take responsibility for it. It's not getting done."
Bledsoe seemed at a loss.
"We're making mistakes at the wrong time and especially against the defending world champs, you can't make mistakes like that," he said.
Brady finished 17 of 30 for 298 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown pass to David Patten. Corey Dillon had 79 yards rushing, including a 15-yard touchdown.
Brady says winning has helped the team's confidence.
"The more you're in those situations, the more confident you become. And the more you say, 'Gosh, we're down but we can come back,' " Brady said. "I love playing on this team, and I love playing with the group of guys that I've got."