Mon, Dec 29, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Patriots run Buffalo right out of town

AMERICAN FOOTBALL QB Tom Brady was nearly flawless, throwing for TDs on New England's first two possessions, finishing with a total of four for the day

REUTERS , FOXBORO, MASSACHUSETTS

Shaun Alexander, with the ball, of the Seahawks runs against Bryant Young, second from right, of the 49ers at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California, Saturday.

PHOTO: AFP

New England Patriots locked up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a lopsided 31-0 win over the Buffalo Bills on Saturday.

The victory was the Patriots' franchise record 12th straight, making them an NFL-best 14-2 for the season.

It was payback time for quarterback Tom Brady after the Patriots were thumped 31-0 by the Bills (6-10) in week one, Buffalo capitalizing on four Brady turnovers during that game.

Brady was nearly flawless in the rematch, throwing for touchdowns on New England's first two possessions, finishing with a total of four for the day to equal a career high.

Remarkably, he had thrown for just three scores at Gillette Stadium in seven previous games this campaign.

"It was a good day to do it," Brady said of his four-TD effort.

He found Daniel Graham from a yard just over four minutes into the game to open the scoring, then hooked up with Bethel Johnson from nine yards for a second TD 5 1/2 minutes later.

He passed 19 yards to Troy Brown very early in the second quarter for New England's third TD, shaking off a vicious hit from the previous play.

Shortly after, he took a shot to the lower left leg from former team mate and still best friend Lawyer Milloy, causing the leg to bend awkwardly.

He limped off the field, but returned on the next series to lead another scoring drive, this time finding David Givens from 10 yards.

Asked about his condition, Brady said: "I'm fine. I feel good.

"I'll be ready to go [in the playoffs]. I'd have to be dead not to play in these games."

It was a forgettable afternoon for Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who spent nine seasons in New England.

Bledsoe, the NFL's most sacked passer this season, threw for just 83 yards while coughing up the ball twice.

Patriots will now get a week off before beginning its quest for its second Super Bowl title in three seasons.

Seahawks 24, 49ers 17

In San Francisco, the Seattle Seahawks (10-6) roared back from an early 14-0 deficit to down the 49ers (7-9) 24-17 and stay alive for a post-season berth.

"We started the playoffs a week early," Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said.

The Seahawks, who won for just the second time on the road this season, will still need some help on Sunday if they are going to make their first playoff appearance since 1999.

Minnesota must lose at Arizona or Green Bay must fall to Denver to give Seattle an NFC wild-card slot.

Battered Seahawk quarterback Matt Hasselbeck found Koren Robinson from 30 yards late in the third quarter for the go-ahead score, Hasselbeck's second TD toss of the afternoon.

He hooked up with Alex Bannister from 31 yards earlier, finishing 24-for-37 for 315 yards.

Shaun Alexander, who amassed 84 rush yards, scampered three yards for Seattle's other score, his 16th TD of the season.

Jeff Garcia passed 18 yards to Jed Weaver to open the scoring, then found Cedrick Wilson from 14 yards to make it 14-0 San Francisco midway through the second period.

It was a disappointing end for first-year 49ers coach Dennis Erickson, who had hoped to see his club finish at .500.

He was also looking for a little revenge against the Seahawks, who axed him following the 1998 season, with Holmgren then taking over.

Eagles 31 Redskins 7

In Landover, Maryland, the Philadelphia Eagles (12-4) sewed up their third straight NFC East title with a convincing 31-7 win over the underachieving Redskins (5-11).

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