Blount leads Pats to bye with 34-20 win over Bills
LeGarrette Blount made one last big splash into a soggy end
The powerful back finished his 35-yard touchdown run up the left
sideline by flopping with outstretched arms and capping the New
England Patriots 34-20 win over the Buffalo Bills in a steady
The victory gave the Patriots a first-round bye and the Gillette
Stadium field an extra week to dry out.
”He carried the team on his back most of the day,” Patriots
coach Bill Belichick said. The rain ”got worse as the game went
along. It was definitely a running game.”
Blount rushed for a career-high 189 yards, returned two kickoffs
for 145 and set a club record with 334 all-purpose yards.
The Patriots (12-4) obtained Blount in an offseason trade with
Tampa Bay and he shared playing time with other backs since then.
On Sunday, the 250-pounder led the charge.
He also scored on a 36-yard run and set up a touchdown and field
goal with kickoff returns of 83 and 62 yards.
The extra point after his 35-yarder put the Patriots ahead 34-20
with 2:31 left.
”Every time I play I try my best to come out with the mindset
to make a contribution to any part of the game, whether it’s kick
returns or running the ball or catching it,” Blount said.
After his second touchdown, he hugged Belichick, who had a towel
draped over his shoulders.
Tom Brady was content to hand the ball off rather than throw
through rain drops against a team leading the NFL in sacks and
second in interceptions.
”The water on the field at the end, it was just puddles,” he
Stephen Gostkowski kicked four field goals as the Patriots
earned their eighth bye in Belichick’s 14 seasons. The Bills (6-10)
missed the playoffs for the 14th straight year, the league’s
longest current streak. They won their previous two games.
”It would be much different if we were ending on a three-game
winning streak,” Bills coach Doug Marrone said. ”To say that
you’re close or anything like that, until you win we don’t have a
leg to stand on.”
New England won its 13th straight home game against Buffalo,
including 12-0 since Gillette opened in 2002.
The Patriots have the second seed and play in two weeks at home,
where they’re 8-0. Denver, which beat Oakland, has the top seed.
New England began its game with a chance to finish in any of the
AFC’s top four playoff spots.
”We put together a great season, but it doesn’t matter much
now,” Brady said.
The Bills played without quarterback EJ Manuel, who has a small
tear in a left knee ligament, and wide receiver Stevie Johnson,
excused for the second straight game after his mother’s death.
Backup Thad Lewis threw a 12-yard scoring pass to T.J. Graham
late in the third quarter and led an 80-yard drive capped by Fred
Jackson’s 5-yard run with 10:20 remaining.
After each of those touchdowns Blount had his long kickoff
His 83-yarder set up Brady’s 5-yard scoring pass to Shane
Vereen, followed by a 2-point conversion pass that made it 24-10.
The 62-yarder led to Gostkowski’s fourth field goal, a 35-yarder
that put the Patriots ahead 27-17.
The Bills turned over the ball on downs on their next
”Of course the ball is wet,” Buffalo wide receiver Robert
Woods said, ”but we still have to make plays and catch the
Before the Patriots ran the next play, ”Singin’ in the Rain”
blared over the public address system, and drenched fans sang
Then Manny Lawson intercepted Brady’s pass and the Bills
capitalized with Dan Carpenter’s 37-yard field goal.
Buffalo tried an onside kick, but Nate Ebner recovered for New
England. Blount then ran 10 yards before scoring his second
touchdown on the next play.
The game even featured a punt by Brady on third-and-32 from his
46-yard line midway through the third quarter with the score 16-3.
It traveled 32 yards, where Jim Leonhard made a fair catch.
”It could have been a lot better,” Brady said.
Brady finished 14 of 24 for 122 yards, one touchdown and one
interception. Lewis went 16 for 29 for 247 yards and a touchdown.
C.J. Spiller led the Bills with 105 yards rushing.
NOTES: Bills tackle Marcell Dareus was benched for the first
half for violating a team rule. In Buffalo’s previous game he was
benched for the first quarter, also for violating a team rule. …
The previous Patriots record for all-purpose yards was 273 by Larry
Garron in 1962 at Buffalo. … Carpenter’s 51-yard field goal that
tied the game at 3 made him the first player in Bills history with
four field goals of at least 50 yards or more in a season.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org