Niagara Gazette

Sports

December 30, 2013

Bruising back leads Pats to bye with win over Bills

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — “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 returns.

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 possession.

“Of course the ball is wet,” Buffalo wide receiver Robert Woods said, “but we still have to make plays and catch the ball.”

Before the Patriots ran the next play, “Singin’ in the Rain” blared over the public address system, and drenched fans sang along.

Then Manny Lawson intercepted Brady’s pass and the Bills capitalized with Dan Carpenter’s 37-yard field goal.

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