November 03, 2002
New England Beats Bledsoe, Bills 38-7
BY: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
ORCHARD PARK, NY -- When Buffalo Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe took the field against his former team on Sunday he asked his players to give him all they had for 60-minutes.
The bad news is it wasn't very much.
The Patriots offense marched down the field on their first drive of the game to take a 7-0 lead and never looked back, beating the Buffalo Bills easily in a 38-7 rout at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Quarterback Tom Brady had a record day, completing 23-of-27 passing for a new franchise best 85% completion percentage. He tossed four touchdown passes, threw for 310-yards passing, and his 154.1 quarterback rating was just 4.2 points shy of a flawless performance.
As for Bledsoe he finished 28-of-45 for 302-yards and a touchdown, and also threw an interception.
Former Bills runningback Antowain Smith also had a big day for the Patriots, rushing for 111-yards on 29-carries and reaching the endzone three times.
It was the first time Smith had broken the 100-yard rushing plateau since December 22nd of last season.
With the victory New England (4-4) snapped a four game losing streak and put themselves back in the AFC East race as the Bills dropped to 5-4 on the season.
The Patriots took command on the opening drive, with Brady completing 6-of-6 for 61-yards, the last of which was a 5-yard touchdown toss to tight end Christian Fauria to put New England up 7-0 just 4:33 into the game.
Buffalo appeared as though they would answer, driving from their own 38-yard line all the way down to the New England 18. But facing 3rd-and-2 Bledsoe dropped back to pass and was faced with immediate pressure up the middle and was sacked for a 14-yard loss. Bills kicker Mike Hollis came out to attempt a 50-yard field goal, but it fell short and the Patriots took over on downs.
After both teams traded punts the Patriots began a drive from their own 43-yard line and went 57-yards on eight plays, with Antowain Smith catching a screen pass at the Buffalo 15 and taking it into the endzone for New England's second touchdown, giving them a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The Bills tried again to answer, with a 22-yard catch by Eric Moulds and a 20-yard grab by Peerless Price helping to set up 1st-and-goal at the New England 6-yard line. But a 1-yard loss by runningback Travis Henry followed by two straight incompletions again saw Hollis come back out to attempt a field goal, this time from 25-yards out. However Brian Moorman botched the hold and Hollis' kick went wide right, and for the second time Buffalo came away without any points.
The Patriots then turned around and drove to the Buffalo 28-yard line where kicker Adam Vinatieri booted a 46-yard field goal right down the middle to extend the lead to 17-0 with 3:49 left in the 1st half.
On the ensuing possession Bledsoe instrumented a 16-play 80-yard drive highlighted by a Larry Centers 17-yard grab, and completions to Price for 21 and 14-yards to give the Bills 1st-and-goal at the New England 1. Bledsoe then connected with Price in the endzone for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 17-7 with :10 left in the half.
The Patriots then stopped the Bills on their opening drive to start the 3rd quarter, with Troy Brown fair-catching the ball at their own 17. After New England reached the Buffalo 45-yard line, Brady then connected with Kevin Faulk who caught the ball on a flip pass and took off up the sidelines for a 45-yard touchdown. The Patriots now had a commanding 24-7 lead with 7:33 left in the third quarter.
The New England defense forced a 3-and-out on the Bill's next possession, and the Patriots put the game away on the ensuing drive. Brady connected with tight end Daniel Graham for 31-yards, and then a 19 and 9-yard reception by receiver David Patten helped set up 1st and goal at the Buffalo 2. Antowain Smith would later take the ball in for a touchdown, increasing the lead to 31-7.
The Bills tried again to put points on the board, with Bledsoe taking the Bills down the field to set up a 45-yard field goal attempt for Hollis, but he missed again, with the kick sailing wide left.
New England again made them pay, taking over at their own 36 and driving down to the Buffalo 14 before Smith caught a screen pass and scampered off again for another touchdown. At 38-7 the game was now firmly in hand for the Patriots.
With nothing left to do now but throw the football Bledsoe was picked off on the next possession by cornerback Ty Law, and New England took over at the Buffalo 29-yard line. Antowain Smith then carried the ball 6-times, taking the ball all the way down to the Bills 2, and facing 4th-and-2 he was stopped short of the goal line, giving Buffalo the ball back at the 1-yard line.
Bledsoe then tried to end the game on a positive note, driving the Bills back the other way to the Patriots 1-yard line, but with :04 left in the game Bledsoe missed Moulds in the rear left corner of the endzone and the game was over.
The talk all week had been about how Bledsoe wanted to play well to get back at his former head coach . Unfortunately round one goes to Bill Belichick, with the rematch now scheduled for December 8th at Gillette Stadium.
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