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Buffalo at New England

Brady, Patriots rally from 11 down to knock off Bills

CBSSports.com wire reports

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tom Brady doesn't do mediocre.

That's not what all those long rehab sessions and months of preparing for his return to the NFL were about. So while Brady's performance was pedestrian for much of Monday night's season opener, when the spotlight was at its most intense, he lived up to the advance billing.

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It seemed to take forever, though.

A year after being sidelined with torn knee ligaments, Brady resembled a rusty game manager more than the invincible record-setting quarterback who guided the Patriots to a perfect 2007 regular season. Yet, he threw two touchdown passes in the final 2:06 as New England beat the Buffalo Bills 25-24.

"I felt good all night, we were just off," Brady said. "The plays we needed to make -- fourth downs we missed, third downs we missed, two chances in the red area, the interception -- those things really get you behind the 8-ball. We recovered with just a few seconds left. Sometimes it happens like that.

"It's a pretty special victory."

Brady needed help in the form of Leodis McKelvin's fumble on a kickoff return after the Patriots pulled within five points.

Placekicker Stephen Gostkowski, of all people, recovered at the Buffalo 31. Brady needed three plays before hitting Benjamin Watson over the middle for the decisive 16-yard touchdown with 50 seconds to go.

"We have a real competitive locker room, a real competitive team," Brady said. "When you're in a situation like we were, it's when you really have to step it up. It takes every guy on the field to step it up. Hopefully, we will continue to do that."

Just 1:16 earlier, he found Watson on a similar play for an 18-yard score. It was vintage Brady, who threw for a record 50 TDs two years ago in leading New England to a perfect record.

"Two-minute drives always are fun for a quarterback," Brady said. "Spread it out, the pass rush gets a little tired, you get a feel for the coverage, you just have to be patient.

"I'm glad it's over, glad we are moving on, got a win, and we'll learn from it."

That unbeaten season was spoiled in Brady's last full game that counted, the February 2008 Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. He was hurt in last season's opener.

Now he's back, although for much of the game he and the Patriots played conservatively, even passively. Indeed, Buffalo seemed ready to break an 11-game losing streak against New England and win for the first time in Gillette Stadium.

Then came the late fireworks, demonstrating that Tom Terrific hasn't lost his touch.

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"That's not how we drew it up, but I'll take it," Brady said. "We did a lot of things poorly, but we got the win."

Buffalo did a lot of things well, but got a shocking loss.

"I chose to bring it out because that's me, no matter what it is," McKelvin said of the lost fumble. "If I had that choice, probably 100 times, I'd do it again."

Coming off a 1-4 preseason in which the offense flopped, the Bills made plenty of big plays.

Trent Edwards outperformed Brady for much of the game and threw for two scores. A 10-yard screen pass TD to Fred Jackson put Buffalo ahead 24-13 with 5:32 to go -- even though its new spotlight-grabber, Terrell Owens, barely caused a ripple. Owens had two catches for 46 yards, then refused to speak about it after the game.

When the offense wasn't doing the damage, defensive end Aaron Schobel was rambling 26 yards with an interception for a first-half TD.

"The interception was a really bad play," Brady said. "You can't do that. You learn from them, get focused and concentrate on what you have to do."

Still, these are the Patriots, who have not lost a regular-season game with Brady at quarterback since Dec. 10, 2006. And they still have all those threats in the passing game, from Randy Moss (12 catches, 141 yards) to Wes Welker (12, 93) to tight end Watson (six, 77, two TDs).

Although Brady had those impressive stats, he never looked deep and struggled to convert key plays until the final moments. Perhaps that big hit he took on his shoulder from Albert Haynesworth 2½ weeks ago limited Brady. And maybe his team was uncomfortable in the throwback red uniforms or being introduced as the Boston Patriots for the first of the NFL's tribute games to the old AFL. Something wasn't right in Foxborough -- until the end.

"It has nothing to do with his layoff," Moss said. "I think it's just first-game jitters. I'm not making an excuse, we just had to settle down and get to playing football the way we know how."


  • Buffalo's other touchdown was an 11-yard reception by Shawn Nelson. Rian Lindell added a 40-yard field goal.
  • Gostkowski had field goals of 20 and 28 yards, but only one extra point because the Patriots failed on two two-point tries after their late touchdowns.
  • Fred Jackson, filling in for suspended starting RB Marshawn Lynch, had 57 yards rushing and 83 receiving for Buffalo.
  • Bills LB Paul Posluszny broke his arm and DE Chris Kelsay hurt his knee.
  • Patriots LB Jerod Mayo, the 2008 Defensive Rookie of the Year, injured his right knee.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Benjamin Watson pulls in the winning touchdown pass from Tom Brady with 50 seconds remaining.
Benjamin Watson pulls in the winning touchdown pass from Tom Brady with 50 seconds remaining. (Getty Images)


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Mon. Sept. 14Final
Pass: T. Edwards (15-25, 212) T. Brady (39-53, 378)
Rush: F. Jackson (15-57) L. Maroney (10-32)
Rec: F. Jackson (5-83) R. Moss (12-141)
Scoring Summary
TDShawn Nelson, 11 Yd pass from Trent Edwards (Rian Lindell kick is good), 2:58. Drive: 6 plays, 68 yards in 3:17.
TDFred Taylor, 1 Yd run (Stephen Gostkowski kick is good), 6:22. Drive: 14 plays, 72 yards in 7:12.
TDAaron Schobel, 26 Yd interception return (Rian Lindell kick is good), 3:29.
FGStephen Gostkowski 20 Yd, 0:00. Drive: 9 plays, 68 yards in 3:29.
FGRian Lindell 40 Yd, 2:32. Drive: 7 plays, 42 yards in 3:25.
FGStephen Gostkowski 28 Yd, 11:43. Drive: 11 plays, 66 yards in 5:49.
TDFred Jackson, 10 Yd pass from Trent Edwards (Rian Lindell kick is good), 5:32. Drive: 14 plays, 62 yards in 6:11.
TDBenjamin Watson, 18 Yd pass from Tom Brady (Tom Brady 2 Pt. Conversion pass to Benjamin Watson failed), 2:06. Drive: 11 plays, 81 yards in 3:26.
TDBenjamin Watson, 16 Yd pass from Tom Brady (Tom Brady 2 Pt. Conversion pass to Randy Moss failed), 0:50. Drive: 3 plays, 31 yards in 1:06.

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Players of the Game
New England

T. Brady
Att 53
Comp 39
Yds 378
TD 2

T. Edwards
Att 25
Comp 15
Yds 212
TD 2
T. Edwards15/2521220
F. Jackson1557016
T. Edwards225016
X. Omon2807
F. Jackson583121
T. Owens246027
D. Schouman341023
L. Evans325012
S. Nelson213111
New England
T. Brady39/5337821
L. Maroney1032011
F. Taylor92516
T. Brady1909
K. Faulk3704
R. Moss12141031
W. Welker1293014
B. Watson677218
K. Faulk651016
L. Maroney2907
C. Baker1707
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
SD 24 Final
OAK 20
CHI 15 Final
GB 21
STL 0 Final
SEA 28
WAS 17 Final
NYG 23
SF 20 Final
ARI 16
DAL 34 Final
TB 21
DET 27 Final
NO 45
JAC 12 Final
IND 14
NYJ 24 Final
MIN 34 Final
CLE 20
DEN 12 Final
PHI 38 Final
CAR 10
KC 24 Final
BAL 38
MIA 7 Final
ATL 19
TEN 10 Final
PIT 13