Bills can't get untracked in lopsided loss to Pats

By MARK GAUGHAN
News Sports Reporter
11/15/2004


Associated Press
Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe gets drilled by New England's Rosevelt Colvin after an 8-yard run in the first quarter.


James P. McCoy/Buffalo News
Bills running back Willis McGahee is gang-tackled by New England defenders. McGahee finished with 37 yards rushing.

FOXBORO, Mass. - Gillette Stadium lived up to its reputation as a House of Horrors for Drew Bledsoe and the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night.
The Bills received a drubbing at the hands of the New England Patriots that can be summed up in one word: embarrassing.

The 29-6 result was every bit as ugly, if not as lopsided, as the Bills' 31-0 loss in last year's regular-season finale.

The Bills were outgained, 428-125, and New England held a time-of-possession edge of 41:22 to 18:38.

Bledsoe suffered indignity upon indignity against his former team.

His passer rating of 14.3 was the lowest of his career. One of his three interceptions went to the Patriots' "disaster" cornerback, Troy Brown, the receiver who spent nine years catching passes from Bledsoe. And Bledsoe was yanked from the game late in the fourth quarter in favor of rookie J.P. Losman.

"Well, there is not much really to say on tonight - we just got beat," Bledsoe said. "They went out and played like the world champs. They played very well and we didn't play well enough against them."

With the Bills at 3-6, it seems only a matter of time before Losman takes over permanently for Bledsoe. For the record, coach Mike Mularkey dismissed the idea after the game, saying the time is not right for such a move and that he's not giving up on the Bills' playoff chances.

So much for the mini-roll the Bills brought into the game. The Patriots jumped to a 20-0 halftime lead. They had 273 yards by halftime - 5 more than the Bills had been allowing per game for the season.

The Bills' only points came on a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown by rookie Jonathan Smith. It came late in the third quarter.

"We did not play well enough to win tonight, especially against a team that does not make mistakes," Mularkey said. "I felt good going into the game. I felt good after the week. I felt good after talking to them this morning. And I wish I hand an answer but I don't."

"I think it killed everything we've been trying to establish," said a frustrated Eric Moulds of the momentum the Bills carried into the game. "We fell back today."

The Bills' offense managed only eight first downs.

The string of 100-yard rushing games by Bills back Willis McGahee came to a stop. McGahee managed just 37 yards on 14 carries.

"What happened out there today is they did a great job of containing me and we just didn't get anything going," McGahee said.

Bledsoe, however, had the longest night of any of the Bills, completing 8 of 19 passes for 76 yards.

His first interception came with 8 seconds left in the first quarter on a long bomb for Moulds that was overthrown and into double coverage. His second interception came with the Pats ahead, 13-0, late in the second quarter. Bledsoe locked onto Moulds over the middle. Pats linebacker Tedy Bruschi read the quarterback's eyes, ignored tight end Tim Euhus in the flat, and stepped directly in front of the throw. Buschi's 29-yard return to the Bills' 27 set up a touchdown that gave New England a 20-0 lead 35 seconds before intermission.

Bledsoe locked onto Moulds again on the third pickoff, which came just a minute into the fourth quarter. It was a short pass for Moulds, who lined up in the slot with Brown guarding him. All Brown had to do was turn and catch the ball.

"I know I had Moulds in the slot, so you know he is their go-to guy," Brown said of his first career pickoff. "So I figured it was going in that direction. I do not think he saw me coming. I was locked behind those big guys, and I don't think Drew saw me."

"That was awesome," Pats receiver David Patten said. "That was the icing on the cake tonight."

Losman played the final two possessions, but it was a forgettable debut for the first-round draft choice.

On his third play, Losman scrambled away from a pass rusher but was tackled by Pats linebacker Willie McGinest and fumbled. New England recovered withy 3:31 left in the game.

Losman got back on the field with 31 seconds left. But his second pass, a short one for Euhus, was easily intercepted by linebacker Tully Banta-Cain. Losman was 1 of 2 for 5 yards.

The Bills' defense, which had not given up more than 20 points in five straight games, was overwhelmed by the balanced Patriots offense.

The Patriots scored on five of their first six possessions, marching 81, 91, 75, 27 and 70 yards en route to two touchdowns and three field goals.

Pats quarterback Tom Brady completed 19 of 35 passes for 233 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Pats running back Corey Dillon carried 26 times for 151 yards and averaged 5.8 yards a carry. It was the fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season for Dillon, and the first 100-yard rushing effort against the Bills this year.

"He is so talented," said Brady of Dillon. "He is so big and fast. The offensive line just played a great game tonight."

The Bills benched free safety Izell Reese in favor of rookie Rashad Baker in the second quarter after Reese gave up an easy long bomb for a 47-yard gain. That play set up the Pats' second field goal, which put them ahead, 6-0.

Baker, an undrafted rookie out of Tennessee, fell down on the Pats' first touchdown, a 13-yard throw from Brady to Pat

ten that put New England ahead, 13-0. However, Baker was not beaten deep the rest of the game.

Adam Vinatieri kicked five field goals, from 27, 24, 20, 45 and 37 yards.

The Bills now are 2-14 in their last 16 road games and have won just one of their last 11 away from Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The Bills have lost seven of their last eight to the Patriots.

A sellout crowd of 68,756 saw the Pats improve to 8-1 and take a two-game lead in the AFC East. They have won 16 straight at home and 23 of their last 24 overall.

"It's hard to pinpoint what went wrong," receiver Lee Evans said. "We just never got into a rhythm. You need to take your hat off to them. They played great."

e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com