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NEW ENGLAND 21, BUFFALO 16

Bruschi Returns for Rally

October 31, 2005|From Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Fans cheered Tedy Bruschi early in the game. Then another returning star won it for the Patriots with two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Corey Dillon, who sat out his previous game because of an ankle injury, came on to score on two one-yard runs and New England came back for a 21-16 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night.

Despite Bruschi's return 8 1/2 months after having a mild stroke, the Patriots' defense struggled for much of the game. But it played well enough, and the offense came alive in time, to hold on to first place in the AFC East. The Patriots (4-3) avoided matching their loss total of the last two seasons, when they went 34-4 with two Super Bowl championships.

Trailing 16-14, New England got the ball at the 23-yard line of Buffalo (3-5) when Rosevelt Colvin stripped it from quarterback Kelly Holcomb and recovered with 6:14 left. Tom Brady hit Deion Branch for a 22-yard gain, then Dillon, who rushed for more than 100 yards once this season, scored his second touchdown of the game.

Dillon, who entered the game when Patrick Pass hurt his leg early in the second quarter, had been questionable on the injury report. But he scored on a one-yard run with 7:06 left, cutting the lead to 16-14 against the team that started the weekend with the NFL's second-worst rush defense. He finished with 77 yards in 18 carries.

Buffalo's last hope ended on a fourth and seven at the Patriots' 40 when Holcomb completed a pass to Eric Moulds, who was stopped for no gain by Hank Poteat.

Bruschi played inside linebacker most of the game 11 days after returning to practice. He was involved in a tackle on Buffalo's second play from scrimmage, then slowed Roscoe Parrish on a reverse that resulted in a six-yard loss.

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