Final

Patriots 17

(9-5, 2-5 away)

Bills 10

(5-9, 2-5 home)

Coverage: CBS

1:00 PM ET, December 20, 2009

Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo, NY 

1 2 3 4 T
NE 0 14 3 017
BUF 3 0 0 710

Top Performers

Passing: R. Fitzpatrick (BUF) - 178 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: L. Maroney (NE) - 23 CAR, 81 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: R. Moss (NE) - 5 REC, 70 YDS, 1 TD

Moss' score helps Pats tighten grip on AFC East

Associated Press

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.

More from ESPN.com

Randy Moss was a man of few words following the Patriots' win Sunday. His silence said a lot, however, writes Tim Graham. Blog


The Patriots tightened their grip on a playoff spot, but they raised questions doing it, writes Mike Reiss. Story

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.

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.

Fast Facts

• The Patriots won their first road game in the United States this season. Their other was road victory was in London against the Bucs.

• New England has won 13 straight against Buffalo, which ties for the longest such active NFL streak. The Chargers have beaten the Raiders 13 times in a row.

• Tom Brady passed for a season-low 115 yards with a TD and an interception. Brady has thrown for less than 200 yards in two straight games for the first time since Weeks 14-15 of the 2006 season.

• Randy Moss had his third straight season with 10 receiving TDs. That ties Jerry Rice for the most seasons with 10 scores in NFL history at nine.

-- ESPN Stats & Information

"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, who's 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.

Game 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 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
NE
BUF
1st Downs1916
Passing 1st downs
78
Rushing 1st downs
86
1st downs from Penalties
42
3rd down efficiency
5-122-12
4th down efficiency
0-02-3
Total Plays5756
Total Yards224241
Yards per play3.94.3
Total Drives1110
Passing115136
Comp - Att
11-2318-27
Yards per pass
5.05.0
Interceptions thrown
11
Sacks - Yards Lost
0-06-41
Rushing109105
Rushing Attempts
3423
Yards per rush
3.24.6
Red Zone (Made-Att)2-31-3
Penalties6-5211-124
Turnovers11
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
11
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession26:2833:32

Passing Leaders

NEC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brady11/231155.0110-0
BUFC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Fitzpat...17/251787.1114-22
Edwards1/2-1-0.5002-19

Rushing Leaders

NECARYDSAVGTDLG
Maroney23813.5113
Morris4133.307
BUFCARYDSAVGTDLG
Jackson15805.3014
Lynch8253.1010

Receiving Leaders

NERECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Moss57014.01167
Welker44010.001411
BUFRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Reed46315.80298
Evans33511.71166

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERNEBUF
bufFG05:36Rian Lindell 25 Yd 03
SECOND QUARTERNEBUF
neTD12:34Randy Moss 13 Yd Pass From Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski Kick) 73
neTD00:24Laurence Maroney 1 Yd Run (Stephen Gostkowski Kick) 143
THIRD QUARTERNEBUF
neFG04:43Stephen Gostkowski 30 Yd 173
FOURTH QUARTERNEBUF
bufTD03:02Lee Evans 11 Yd Pass From Ryan Fitzpatrick (Rian Lindell Kick) 1710