Patriots top Bills to improve 10-0
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady called out Rex Ryan and then he beat the Bills — again.
After shouting the name of the Buffalo coach as an audible, Brady led New England to a 20-13 victory over the Bills on Monday night and kept the defending Super Bowl champions on course for their second perfect regular season in nine years.
Brady completed 20 of 39 passes for 277 yards, hitting James White for a 20-yard score that was the first touchdown of the running back's career. White added a 6-yard run in the third quarter to give New England (10-0) the lead for good.
Brady even took a dig at the Buffalo coach, lining up under center in the first quarter and shouting "Rex Ryan! Rex Ryan!" Asked if there was a message in it, Brady struggled to suppress a smile.
"We have a lot of unusual terms," Brady said. "I think we run the gamut. So we've got to get creative and think of different things. That one is pretty unique."
Ryan was less troubled about any personal slight than losing to his longtime nemesis for the 11th time in 15 games.
"He likes me, I know that," the coach said.
The game was filled with mistakes, penalties, injuries and turnovers — including two fumbles on a single punt, a rare missed field goal by New England's Stephen Gostkowski and an inadvertent whistle that led to one of many lengthy conferences among the officials.
"That's one of the craziest I've ever seen," said LeSean McCoy, who ran 20 times for 82 yards and a 27-yard touchdown and caught six passes for 41 yards to surpass 100 yards from scrimmage for the fourth straight game.
And the game ended on another apparent refereeing blunder, with Sammy Watkins crawling out of bounds untouched near midfield but the official inexplicably signaling for the clock to run.
New England remained unbeaten despite losing another key player: Danny Amendola, who took over as the Patriots' No. 1 receiver because of last week's injury to Julian Edelman, caught nine passes for 117 yards before leaving with a knee injury of his own in the third quarter.
"We were down to two healthy receivers," Brady said. "You get pretty limited in things you can do pretty quickly."
The Patriots lead the AFC East by five games with six to play.
"At the end of the day, they find ways to win," Ryan said. "That's what championship teams do. We're not at that level, but I promise you we'll get there."
Tyrod Taylor was 20 for 36 for 233 yards for the Bills (5-5), who snapped a two-game winning streak and lost to Brady for the 25th time in 28 games; Ryan was 4-9 against New England as the New York Jets coach before getting swept in his first season in Buffalo.
With the wind chill temperature at 21 degrees at kickoff, both teams struggled on offense. Stephon Gilmore picked Brady off — just the fourth interception of the year for the reigning Super Bowl MVP; another interception was negated by offsetting penalties.
The Patriots even failed to score in the fourth — the first time they were shut out in a quarter since the first one of the season.
In the third, both teams fumbled on the same punt.
Leodis McKelvin fielded a punt at his own but coughed up the ball 2 yards later. New England's Jonathan Freeny picked it and rumbled 5 yards before he lost the ball and it bounced out of bounds.
The Patriots took over at the Buffalo 30 and took a 20-10 lead on Gostkowski's 35-yard field goal.
Even the referees were sloppy.
Early in the third, Brady rolled toward the right sideline before throwing downfield to Amendola. As the receiver broke for the end zone, the play was whistled dead — apparently because the official thought Brady stepped out of bounds.
After a long discussion, the referee announced that there was an inadvertent whistle. The 14-yard reception counted, with a 15-yard penalty for interference from the Bills coaching staff.
The drive ended with an even more unusual error: Gostkowski's first miss in 51 weeks.
The Patriots managed just a field goal in the first, then went scoreless for 22 minutes, 16 seconds before Brady led a 33-second touchdown drive to make it 10-3 with 13 seconds left in the half.
Brady threw an out pass to White, who broke a tackle along the sideline to score from 20 yards out.
That prolonged New England's scoring streak, but it came to an end at 38 in a row when the Bills shut them out in the fourth.
And another streak was snapped, too.
Gostkowski hadn't missed a kick all season, a total of 22 field goals and 35 extra points before his attempt from 54 yards out in the third quarter sailed wide right. It was his first miss since Nov. 30, 2014, and his first miss at home since Week 2 of the 2013 season.