NEXT OP­PO­NENT: PA­TRI­OTS

Game ba­sics; player stats, sched­ules, ros­ters, depth charts

Packer Plus - - News - John Wawrow AP sports writer

— Devin McCourty was pleased that the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots de­fense didn’t have to play sec­ond fid­dle to Tom Brady and Co. for once.

With the Pa­tri­ots lean­ing more on Stephen Gostkowski’s leg than Brady’s arm against the Buf­falo Bills on Mon­day night, McCourty stepped up and re­turned an in­ter­cep­tion 84 yards to se­cure a 25-6 vic­tory.

“The last cou­ple of games it was our of­fense scor­ing and us try­ing to keep the team out. This was a game where they were mov­ing the ball and couldn’t get into the end zone,” McCourty said. “We had to make sure Buf­falo didn’t get in the end zone, and once it cracked, we had to take ad­van­tage of it.”

The in­ter­cep­tion proved to be the turn­ing point in what had been a tightly con­tested game in which New Eng­land set­tled for four Gostkowski field goals, and af­ter James White scored on a 1yard to make it 18-6 with 9:58 left.

The Bills re­sponded with what was ini­tially ruled a touch­down, when tight end Ja­son Croom ap­peared to make a div­ing, one-handed catch in the end zone. The 25-yard catch was negated when re­plays showed Croom never had posses­sion.

Two plays later, McCourty jumped in front of Derek An­der­son’s at­tempt to hit tight end Charles Clay over the mid­dle.

“Those are bonus points. It’s hard to count on those,” Pa­tri­ots coach Bill Belichick said. “It was a big play for us. They were driv­ing in the red area and it turned it around.”

Buf­falo lost its third straight and dropped to 2-6 for its worst start since open­ing the 2010 sea­son with eight losses.

The Bills of­fense con­tin­ued its ane­mic ways in be­ing held to un­der 7 points for the fourth time this sea­son – once more than that’s hap­pened from 2013’17. Buf­falo has scored just two touch­downs in its past five out­ings, a stretch in which it has been outscored by a mar­gin of 116-37.

Credit the Bills’ de­fense for not play­ing the role of the ex­pected pushover against a Brady-led of­fense that had scored 38 or more points in each of its past four games.

“You come out and you hold those guys to one touch­down and still can’t get a win. It’s tough, man,” Bills cor­ner­back Tre’Davi­ous White said.

Stephen Hauschka ac­counted for the scor­ing by hit­ting field goals from 51 and 47 yards.

“It’s clearly not good enough,” coach Sean McDer­mott said of his sput­ter­ing of­fense. “I thought the de­fense came out and played well at times. Of­fen­sively, we shot our­selves in the foot a lit­tle bit there, and just couldn’t get it go­ing enough.”

An­der­son fin­ished 22 of 39 for 290 yards and two in­ter­cep­tions.

He was es­corted off the field with 1:25 left when he was sacked by Kyle Van Noy. He was mak­ing his sec­ond start in place of rookie Josh Allen, who’s listed as week to week with a sprained el­bow on his throw­ing arm.

Brady fin­ished 29 of 45 for 324 yards, but was held with­out a touch­down pass for the first time this sea­son.

“They made it tough on us,” he said. “We couldn’t get any­thing go­ing in the red zone, not enough pos­i­tive plays down there.”

Brady con­tin­ued his string of ca­reer­long dom­i­nance over the Bills by im­prov­ing to 29-3, ex­tend­ing the NFL record for most wins by a quar­ter­back

GETTY IM­AGES

Devin McCourty in­ter­cepts a pass and runs it back for a touch­down on Mon­day night.

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