|Date of game: 12/29/2013
Recap: New England vs. Buffalo
Foxboro, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - It appears LeGarrette Blount enjoys playing in the rain.
Blount rushed 24 times for a career-high 189 yards with two touchdowns and set up a pair of second-half scores with lengthy kickoff returns, leading the New England Patriots to a 34-20 win over the Buffalo Bills in the regular-season finale at a drenched Gillette Stadium.
Tom Brady had 122 yards and a touchdown on 14-of-24 passing in the steady rain and recorded his third career punt for New England (12-4). The AFC East champs secured the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. The Patriots will play their divisional postseason game on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 8:15 p.m. ET.
Julian Edelman had 65 yards on nine receptions and joined Wes Welker and Troy Brown as the only Patriots to have 100 catches in a season.
"I think that we feel that we can win different ways," said Brady. "That was a great all-around performance, that's what we needed."
Thad Lewis, starting for injured Buffalo rookie EJ Manuel (knee), was 16-of-29 for 247 yards and one touchdown. C.J. Spiller amassed 105 yards on 19 carries for the Bills (6-10).
Lewis hit T.J. Graham for a 12-yard TD strike, trimming the Bills' deficit to 16-10 with 1:29 remaining in the third quarter. Buffalo had been held off the scoreboard since Dan Carpenter drilled a 51-yard field goal on its opening possession of the game.
New England quickly countered behind Blount, who returned the ensuing kick 83 yards. Stephen Gostkowski was out to attempt a field goal to begin the fourth quarter, but an encroachment penalty extended the New England drive. Brady then hooked up with Shane Vereen for a 5-yard TD pass. Edelman caught a pass for the two-point conversion.
The see-saw battle continued as Fred Jackson reached the end zone on a 5-yard touchdown run before a 62-yard return by Blount put the Patriots in position for Gostkowski's 35-yard field goal.
On the next New England drive, Vereen bobbled a pass and Manny Lawson came up with the interception at the Buffalo 48.
The Bills turned the takeaway into a Carpenter 37-yard field goal that closed the gap to 27-20 with 3:26 to play.
New England then recovered an onside kick and Blount sealed the win with a 35- yard TD run.
"They made plays and we were able to battle back at times," said Bills head coach Doug Marrone. "When we really needed to step up to make a play we couldn't do it. Give credit to New England."
The Patriots produced points on each of their first three drives. Gostkowski kicked two field goals and Blount made it 13-3 with a 36-yard TD run early in the second quarter. Blount cut from his left to the right and ran through a huge opening to the end zone.
The New England defense then came up with a big stop on fourth down, wrapping up Lewis for a 1-yard loss on a QB sneak at its own 45.
The Patriots later marched to the red zone and settled for Gostkowski's 29- yarder on the final play prior to halftime.Game Notes
Brady earned his 148th career win, tying John Elway for third place on the
all-time list among starting QBs ... The Patriots finished 8-0 at Gillette
Stadium for the sixth time since the facility opened in 2002 ... Blount set a
franchise record for all-purpose yards with 334 ... The Patriots have won 13
straight home games against Buffalo and 15 consecutive home games against AFC
East opponents ... Gostkowski set a single-season team record with 38 field
goals. He broke his own mark of 36 set in 2008 ... This marked the fifth time
in team history the Patriots opened and closed the season against the same