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(Sunday, December 26th)
Final Score: New England 34, Buffalo 3
Orchard Park, NY (Sports Network) - Although the calendar read December 26, it was Groundhog Day all over again for the Buffalo Bills against the New England Patriots.
Tom Brady added to his MVP resume with three touchdown passes, and the Patriots locked up not only the AFC East crown for the seventh time in the past eight seasons, but also the conference's top seed with a 34-3 victory over the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
New England (13-2) has won 15 straight over the Bills since a 31-0 drubbing at Buffalo during the first week of the 2003 campaign.
The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl that season and now find themselves in an enviable position in their quest to return to the big game as the conference's representative this year.
"We never get tired of winning and that's what we get prepared for all offseason," Brady said. "This is a tough division."
Brady finished with only 140 yards on 15-of-27 passing, but he hit rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski for a pair of eight-yard scores in the Patriots' seventh straight win since a loss in Cleveland on November 7.
One play before he hit Gronkowski for his second TD in the third quarter, Brady threw an incomplete pass to the tight end that was his 309th consecutive attempt without an interception, breaking the previous NFL record of 308 set by Bernie Kosar.
New England forced seven turnovers on Sunday, five of which were committed by Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick completed 18-of-37 throws for 251 yards, but was intercepted three times and fumbled twice.
"I didn't figure it would be like that," Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams said of being blown out. "When you play those guys you have to be prepared to play."
Fred Jackson rushed for 81 yards on 13 carries for the Bills (4-11), who had a two-game winning streak snapped.
The opening drive of the game ended with Buffalo's Rian Lindell kicking a 26- yard field goal.
New England was forced to punt on its first series, but began its next drive at the Bills' 48-yard line. Four plays later, Danny Woodhead reached the end zone on a shotgun draw, scampering 29 yards to give the Patriots the lead with 3:46 remaining in the first quarter.
Fitzpatrick guided the Bills into enemy territory on the ensuing drive, but lost the ball while being sacked. Linebacker Jerod Mayo recovered the fumble at the 20, and the Patriots converted the turnover into a touchdown pass from Brady to Gronkowski early in the second frame.
After Buffalo turned the ball over on downs, the Patriots' lead grew to 17-3 when Shayne Graham made a 34-yard field goal.
Safety Pat Chung picked off Fitzpatrick on Buffalo's next series and Brady followed with a four-yard TD pass to Alge Crumpler, extending the margin to 24-3 with 33 seconds left before halftime.
Fitzpatrick was intercepted by Jarrad Page on Buffalo's second play from scrimmage in the third quarter, leading to another touchdown reception by Gronkowski.
Graham's 26-yarder capped the scoring with 10:15 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots clinched the division for the eighth time in the past 10 seasons overall...Buffalo has been outscored 435-163 during its 15 straight losses in the series...BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for 104 yards on 19 carries in the win...Woodhead finished with 93 yards on 13 carries.
12/26 18:10:42 ET
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