NFL: Patriots stun Bills

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Associated Press
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. ó Tom Brady doesn’t do mediocre.
That’s not what all those long rehab sessions and months of preparing for his return to the NFL were about. So while Brady’s performance was pedestrian for much of Monday night’s season opener, when the spotlight was at its most intense, he lived up to the advance billing.
It seemed to take forever, though.
A year after being sidelined with torn knee ligaments, Brady resembled a rusty game manager more than the invincible record-setting quarterback who guided the Patriots to a perfect 2007 regular season. Yet, he threw two touchdown passes in the final 2:06 as New England beat the Buffalo Bills 25-24.
“I felt good all night; we were just off,” Brady said. “The plays we needed to make ó fourth downs we missed, third downs we missed, two chances in the red area, the interception ó those things really get you behind the 8-ball. We recovered with just a few seconds left. Sometimes it happens like that.
“It’s a pretty special victory.”
Brady needed help in the form of Leodis McKelvin’s fumble on a kickoff return after the Patriots pulled within five points.
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski, of all people, recovered at the Buffalo 31. Brady needed three plays before hitting tight end Benjamin Watson over the middle for the decisive 16-yard TD with 50 seconds to go.
“We have a real competitive locker room, a real competitive team,” Brady said. “When you’re in a situation like we were, it’s when you really have to step it up. It takes every guy on the field to step it up. Hopefully, we will continue to do that.”
Just 1:16 earlier, Brady found Watson on a similar play for an 18-yard score. It was vintage Brady, who threw for a record 50 TDs two years ago in leading New England to a perfect record.
“Two-minute drives always are fun for a quarterback,” Brady said. “Spread it out, the pass rush gets a little tired, you get a feel for the coverage, you just have to be patient.
“I’m glad it’s over, glad we are moving on, got a win, and we’ll learn from it.”
Buffalo seemed ready to break an 11-game losing streak against New England and win for the first time in Gillette Stadium.
Buffalo did a lot of things well, but got a shocking loss.
“I chose to bring it out because that’s me, no matter what it is,” McKelvin said of the lost fumble. “If I had that choice, probably 100 times, I’d do it again.”
Trent Edwards outperformed Brady for much of the game and threw for two scores. A 10-yard screen pass TD to Fred Jackson put Buffalo ahead 24-13 with 5:32 to go ó even though its new spotlight-grabber, Terrell Owens, barely caused a ripple. Owens had two catches for 46 yards, then refused to speak about it after the game.
When the offense wasn’t doing the damage, defensive end Aaron Schobel was running 26 yards with an interception for a first-half TD.
“The interception was a really bad play,” Brady said. “You can’t do that. You learn from them, get focused and concentrate on what you have to do.”
The Patriots have not lost a regular-season game with Brady at quarterback since Dec. 10, 2006. They still have all those threats in the passing game, from Randy Moss (12 catches, 141 yards) to Wes Welker (12, 93) to Watson (six, 77).