Patriots beat bumbling Bills, wrap up AFC’s top seed

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The game Sunday was over before halftime when the Patriots scored 24 unanswered points after the Bills opened with Rian Lindell’s 26-yard field goal.

They went ahead for good on Woodhead’s touchdown, which came after linebacker Gary Guyton forced Fitzpatrick to fumble on Buffalo’s third possession. And the Bills‘ string of turnovers didn’t end until the last time the Bills touched the ball — and then gave it away with 1:51 left, when C.J. Spiller muffed a punt.

In between, the Bills had their final 11 drives end with four fumbles, three interceptions, two failed fourth-down attempts, a punt and halftime.

“We played bad,” Bills coach Chan Gailey said after watching his team inexplicably unravel in its home finale, and after winning four of its past six. “Turnovers, penalties, not stopping the run, every bit of it. Everybody on the whole team, all of us take the blame for that.”

Brady broke Kosar’s record with his 17th attempt early in the third quarter, when Gronkowski dropped a pass over the middle at the goal line. The two hooked up on the next play for an 8-yard touchdown.

Brady has thrown for a touchdown in all 15 games this season, keeping alive his opportunity to become only the seventh NFL player to have thrown a TD pass in all 16 games.

Bill Belichick is so accustomed to Brady’s efficiency that he didn’t even know what his quarterback had accomplished.

“I didn’t realize he broke that. That’s great,” Belichick said. “Tom does a great job of managing the game and taking care of the ball. I think he deserves that.”

Notes: The Patriots have gone seven straight without a turnover and have only turned the ball over nine times this season. The NFL record for fewest turnovers in a 16-game season is 13, set in 2008 by both Miami and the New York Giants. … Fitzpatrick went 18 of 37 for 251 yards to become the first Bills player to hit 3,000 yards passing since J.P. Losman did it in 2006. Fitzpatrick had his TD streak end at 15 games, three short of the franchise record set by Jim Kelly. … Bills WR David Nelson hurt his ribs in the first half, and has been ruled out for Buffalo’s finale at the Jets next weekend.

 

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