The Buffalo Bills showed a little bit of fight late but were outmuscled in a 34-20 loss Sunday to the New England Patriots. The loss ended Buffalo's year at 6-10, the fifth straight year with double-digit losses for the Bills.
The Bills actually outgained the Patriots, 393 yards-382 yards. But Buffalo's inability to slow New England's running or special teams games was its demise. LeGarrette Blount blitzed Buffalo for 189 rushing yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns, a 36-yarder in the second quarter to open up a 13-3 lead and the final score of the game to seal the win with 2:31 left.
The Bills were down 16-3 for most of the third quarter before Thad Lewis helped them make a game of it. He hit T.J. Graham for a 12-yard strike with 1:29 left in the third quarter. After Shane Vereen gave the Pats a 14-point lead, Lewis led a lengthy drive that was capped off by a five-yard Fred Jackson run.
But both after that score and the one preceding it, the Bills' special teams failed to give the team any momentum. Returns to the Bills' 20-yard line after the Graham score and 40-yard line after Jackson's score set the pats up perfectly to retake multi-score leads. The Pats racked 189 yards in kickoff returns in all.
"When we really needed to step up and make a play, we couldn't do it," coach Doug Marrone said. "Structure and discipline are two things that we have to do a better job of."
That took the load off Tom Brady. he attempted only 24 passes on the rain-soaked day, completing 14 for 122 yards and one touchdown along with one interception. Lewis ended the day 16-of-29 for 247 yards and the one touchdown. C.J. Spiller quietly broke the 100-yard mark, hitting 105 on 19 carries; Jackson added 60 yards on 14 carries. Spiller added five receptions for 28 yards, with Graham totaling 62 yards on three grabs.
The Pats secured the No. 2 seed in the AFC with the win and a first-round bye. The Bills finished last in the AFC East for a sixth straight season.
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