ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Irving Fryar Sunday returned a third-quarter punt 85 yards for a touchdown that insured a 17-14 victory for the New England Patriots over the winless Buffalo Bills.
The Bills, trailing only 10-7 at the time, stopped Fryar's original punt return, but Buffalo was penalized for having an illegal man downfield and Fryar got a second chance to return John Kidd's punt.
Fryar took the kick on his own 15, ran across the field to his right and then sprinted up the sideline untouched for the score to make it 17-7.
"They shouldn't have had the second opportunity there," said Buffalo Coach Kay Stephenson, who, despite the loss, got a vote of confidence from Buffalo owner Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.
"Kay's the football coach and he's doing the best he can," Wilson said. "If there's anyone to blame, you're talking to him."
The punt return was the second-longest in the history of the Patriots, who also scored on a Tony Franklin field goal and on a five-yard touchdown pass from halfback Craig James to Tony Collins.
Buffalo finally scored its first touchdown of the season when Greg Bell took a Vince Ferragamo swing pass and went 16 yards for the score in the second quarter.
Ferragamo hit rookie Andre Reed with a 19-yard scoring pass at the start of the fourth quarter, but the Bills could not drive close enough for another chance.
Although the Bills' 306 net yards was better than New England's 227 yards, the Patriots benefited from shoddy special teams play by the Bills.
Including Fryar's touchdown romp, the Patriots had 133 yards in punt returns and added another 104 yards in kickoff returns.
Ferragamo finished the day with 23 completions in 39 attempts for 251 yards and 1 interception. The Patriots' Tony Eason completed 12 of 21 passes for 100 yards.