December 16, 2001
Pats Beat Bills 12-9 (OT)
BY: Bob George
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The New England Patriots survived a tough Buffalo Bill defense, and got a lucky break on a replay call in overtime.
David Patten hauled in a controversial 13-yard catch, then Antowain Smith ran for 40 yards to set up a 23-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri, and the Patriots gutted out a 12-9 overtime win at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday.
Patten's catch was initially ruled a fumble, as he was clobbered by Keion Carpenter at the Buffalo 43. But as Patten lay on the ground, still clutching the football with his legs, his helmet was out of bounds. Despite Nate Clements picking up the loose football, referee Mike Carey ruled that Patten was out of bounds and down by contact, the catch good.
The play allowed the Patriots to maintain possession of the football. Antowain Smith then ran 40 yards down the right sideline to the Bills' 3. Two plays later, Vinatieri nailed the game-winner.
The Patten catch seemed to typify this season for the Patriots, and how lots of breaks have gone their way. Earlier in the game, Peerless Price caught what seemed to be a 7-yard touchdown grab in the fourth quarter. The Bills did not ask for replay, and it showed that Price juggled the ball before getting only one foot in bounds. Shayne Graham kicked a 25-yard field goal to tie the contest at 6.
Tom Brady had a rough day, completing only 19 of 35 passes and one interception. He was sacked five times, and was under siege most all day. He overthrew several receivers, including two in the end zone on the Patriots' final drive of regulation.
The game was a field goal duel. Vinatieri also connected from 40, 32 and 25 yards. Graham missed a 43-yarder in the first half, but did connect from 41, 25 and 41 yards.
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