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New England at Buffalo

Pats hold off Bills to win first road game on U.S. soil

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- So much for all those accusing Randy Moss of quitting. Same thing for anyone wondering whether the New England Patriots are vulnerable this season.

No matter how inconsistently the Patriots have played -- particularly on the road -- or what distractions they've faced, one thing remains constant: They can always count on beating their perennial patsy, the Buffalo Bills.

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A week after being accused of giving up by Carolina Panthers defenders, Moss bounced back with five catches for 70 yards and a touchdown in a 17-10 win Sunday. And Tully Banta-Cain anchored a banged-up defense with a three sacks in a victory that lacked style points, but accomplished what's most important by inching the AFC East-leading Patriots (9-5) closer to clinching a playoff berth.

New England moved two wins ahead of both Miami and the New York Jets after both division rivals lost. Buffalo has lost 13 in a row to New England.

Leave it to Moss to sum up the victory with a defiant statement.

"You all did your talking, now let me do mine," said Moss in addressing reporters for the first time this week; he had one catch for 16 yards in a 20-10 win over Carolina last Sunday. "I've been in this league 12 years, and I've been through a lot. And these shoulders that I have on my body, you can put the earth on it. So just to let you know, I bounced back. I appreciate it."

Moss then left the podium without taking questions.

Tom Brady never had any doubts regarding the receiver.

"He came out and showed what kind of character he has," said Brady, who finished 11 of 23 for a season-worst 115 yards. "He's a very competitive guy. The way he played today, he made some tough catches in traffic."

The Patriots built a 17-3 lead through three quarters, and then wound up hanging on to win their 18th in 19 meetings with the Bills. In the process, New England improved its road record to 2-5, with its only other away victory a 35-7 win over Tampa Bay at London's Wembley Stadium in October.

The Bills (5-9) were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, capping a decade of futility. They'll miss the playoffs for a 10th straight season, tied with Detroit for the longest active drought.

"Very sick of losing to the Patriots," safety Donte Whitner said. "They have a little swagger about themselves because they know they've beaten us so many times."

Actually, the Bills played a big role in beating themselves. Buffalo was undone by 11 penalties for 124 yards, including a pair of pass-interference calls that set up New England's first two TDs.

Whitner was flagged for interfering with Moss at the Bills 3. That set up Brady hitting Moss for a 13-yard touchdown for a 7-3 lead. Laurence Maroney scored on a 1-yard run, a touchdown set up after Buffalo's Reggie Corner was flagged for interfering with Wes Welker on a deep pass into the end zone.

Buffalo's 104 yards in penalties in the first half were the most by an NFL team in an opening half this season.

"It's tough to beat a good football team like New England," said Perry Fewell, whose record as Bills interim coach dropped to 2-3. "But when you kill yourselves with those kind of mistakes, then you lessen the chance of your probability to win."

As poorly as the Bills played, they were still in the game in the fourth quarter after Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Lee Evans for an 11-yard touchdown pass just inside the left pylon with 3:02 remaining.

Buffalo then recovered the ensuing onside kick, but the play was negated by -- what else? -- an offside penalty against rookie Aaron Maybin.

The Patriots' defense proved too much for the Bills despite missing regular linemen Vince Wilfork (foot) and Ty Warren (ankle). After allowing Buffalo to open with a 69-yard march capped by Rian Lindell's 25-yard field goal, New England limited the Bills to 172 yards the rest of the game.

"I don't know about making a statement. We got the job done, and that's the most important thing," linebacker Adalius Thomas said. "Winning makes everything better."

A key Patriots defensive series came at the start of the fourth quarter, when Trent Edwards came off the bench to spell Fitzpatrick for Buffalo. The Bills went backward as Edwards went 1 of 2 for minus-1 yard and was sacked by Banta-Cain for a 9-yard loss.

It was Edwards' only series; he hurt his right ankle, forcing Fitzpatrick to return on Buffalo's next possession.

Notes

  • The Patriots improved to 26-3 in the month of December since the 2003 season.
  • Bills CB Terrence McGee left after hurting his right arm during a collision with Moss in the third quarter. S Bryan Scott did not return after sustaining a blow to the head late in the fourth period.
  • Bills WR Terrell Owens was limited to two catches for 20 yards, leaving him two receptions short of becoming the sixth NFL player to hit the 1,000 mark.
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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Sun. Dec. 20Final
0143017
Buffalo
(5-9)
300710
PatriotsBills
Pass: T. Brady (11-23, 115) R. Fitzpatrick (17-25, 178)
Rush: L. Maroney (23-81) F. Jackson (15-80)
Rec: R. Moss (5-70) J. Reed (4-63)
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
FGRian Lindell 25 Yd, 5:36. Drive: 14 plays, 69 yards in 9:24.
2ND QUARTER
TDRandy Moss, 13 Yd pass from Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski kick is good), 12:34. Drive: 5 plays, 75 yards in 3:12.
TDLaurence Maroney, 1 Yd run (Stephen Gostkowski kick is good), 0:24. Drive: 8 plays, 64 yards in 3:06.
3RD QUARTER
FGStephen Gostkowski 30 Yd, 4:43. Drive: 14 plays, 64 yards in 7:04.
4TH QUARTER
TDLee Evans, 11 Yd pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick (Rian Lindell kick is good), 3:02. Drive: 2 plays, 28 yards in 0:35.
Players of the Game

F. Jackson
Rush 15
Yds 80
Avg 5.3
TD 0

L. Maroney
Rush 23
Yds 81
Avg 3.5
TD 1
 
New England
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
T. Brady11/2311511
RushingATTYDSTDLG
L. Maroney2381113
S. Morris41307
K. Faulk1707
M. Slater1606
W. Welker1505
T. Brady4-300
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
R. Moss570116
W. Welker440014
K. Faulk1303
S. Morris1202
Buffalo
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
R. Fitzpatrick17/2517811
T. Edwards1/2-100
RushingATTYDSTDLG
F. Jackson1580014
M. Lynch825010
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
J. Reed463029
L. Evans335116
F. Jackson432013
T. Owens220011
S. Nelson41708
R. Parrish110010
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
NYG 45 Final
WAS 12
MIN 7 Final
CAR 26
TB 24 Final
SEA 7
CIN 24 Final
SD 27
OAK 20 Final
DEN 19
MIA 24 Final
TEN 27
HOU 16 Final
STL 13
GB 36 Final
PIT 37
SF 13 Final
PHI 27
ATL 10 Final
NYJ 7
CLE 41 Final
KC 34
ARI 31 Final
DET 24
CHI 7 Final
BAL 31
DAL 24 Final
NO 17
IND 35 Final
JAC 31