Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes, two of them to Randy Moss, as the New England Patriots outgunned the Buffalo Bills 38-30 on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
The win was the 14th straight victory by the Patriots (2-1) over Buffalo (0-3), tying them with the Miami Dolphins who dominated the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts between 1980-1987 for the longest winning streak against one team.
Brady went 21-for-27 for 252 yards. His two majors to Moss came in the first and third quarters, while his other touchdown strike was also in the third, to rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Moss’s first touchdown was a short seven yard catch that capped off New England’s opening drive and was the 150th of his career, making him the only receiver other than Jerry Rice to ever accomplish the feat.
His second touchdown nab was from a 35-yard toss by Brady down the middle that finished a quick five play drive to open up the second half.
The catch brought the New England wideout’s career receiving yards to 14,604, surpassing Marvin Harrison for fifth all-time in the category.
Brady’s scoring throw to Gronkowski was a small five yarder and came later in the third quarter. It is significant because it was the 233rd touchdown pass of his career, putting him in 19th place in NFL history, succeeding Steve Young.
Buffalo had a landmark of its own, as rookie C.J. Spiller recorded the first two touchdowns of his young NFL career.
The Bills’ first round draft choice scampered in for a major in the second quarter on a short catch and run and then, in the third quarter, he had an electrifying 95-yard kickoff return touchdown.
Spiller was apart of a revived Bills offence that was captained by newly appointed starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick was effective in the opportunity he was given, going 20-for-28 for 247 yards with a couple touchdowns and interceptions.
Up to Sunday’s 30 point outburst, Buffalo had only managed a total of 17 points.
When the game first started, Buffalo head coach Chan Gailey’s decision to go with Fitzpatrick immediately produced results.
In the opening drive of the game, the Bills were able make it 59 yards down the field and get early points after a 39-yard Rian Lindell field goal to make the score 3-0 Bills.
However, the New England possession immediately following the field goal was the drive that would lead to Brady’s first hookup with Moss, resulting in a 7-3 Patriots lead after kicker Stephen Gostkowski tacked on the extra point that they would carry into the second quarter.
Quarter two started off very promising for the Bills who forced a three-and-out on the Patriots. The resulting offensive chance would see Fitzpatrick march his team into the red zone, but a Jerod Mayo sack on the Buffalo pivot would force Lindell to kick another 39-yarder, making the score 7-6 New England.
Later in the quarter, with a little under to 11 minutes to play in the period, Buffalo would earn its first takeaway of the year after recovering a fumble from Patriot’s wide receiver Brandon Tate who had dropped the ball after making a 14-yard reception.
The Bills would make good on the turnover and take the lead 13-7 thanks to Spiller’s first touchdown and a successful Lindell PAT.
The lead wouldn’t last for long though, because on the ensuing New England drive, the Pats would respond with a touchdown of their own on a 22-yard run down the middle by Danny Woodhead, putting them up 14-13.
Following this, with fewer than 30 seconds to play in the half, Lindell would connect on a 34-yard try and give Buffalo a 16-14 lead.
Again, though, the Pats would respond and reclaim the lead after a couple of complete passes thrown by Brady to setup a 43-yard Gostkowski field that made the game 17-16 to finish a wild first half that had five lead changes.
In the second half, Buffalo would come close, but could never take back the lead.
The third quarter would open with Moss’ second touchdown and Spiller’s dynamic return, putting the score at 24-23 Patriots.
A New England drive the 8:42 mark in the frame would end with Brady’s third major, pulling the Pats away 31-23.
From there, Buffalo wouldn’t be able to get much closer.
In the fourth quarter, Fitzpatrick would throw a touchdown to Steve Johnson, but he would also be picked off twice. The touchdown could have been a big momentum turner had New England’s BenJarvus Green-Ellis not scored a touchdown in the previous possession.
Buffalo’s week four matchup will be at home against the New York Jets next Sunday at 1:00 PM ET.
New England will travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins for next week’s Monday night affair at 8:30 PM ET.