ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) – Running back LeSean McCoy isn’t sure if the bad blood between the Bills and Patriots – and increased by tight end Rob Gronkowski’s hit on Buffalo cornerback Tre’Davious White – will carry over in three weeks when the AFC East rivals meet again in New England.
What the Bills running back is certain of is how much Buffalo needs to correct on offense if it plans to remain in the playoff hunt by then.
“Yeah, it was a nasty and dirty play. I’ve never seen him do that before,” McCoy said of how Gronkowski led with his shoulder in pile-driving a defenseless White in the back of the head in the fourth quarter of New England’s 23-3 win Sunday.
White sustained a potential concussion in being hit after he intercepted Tom Brady’s pass with 4:50 remaining.
Gronkowski was flagged for unnecessary roughness.
“He’s a hell of a player, and a good person. Surprising,” McCoy said. “But there are more important things to talk about.”
One concern is an offense, which was limited to scoring a field goal, and came away with no points on two drives inside the Patriots 10. Another is Buffalo facing the possibility of being without starter Tyrod Taylor , who was sidelined by a left knee injury.
If Taylor’s injury proves serious, Buffalo (6-6) would be forced to continue its late-season playoff push with rookie Nathan Peterman, who two weeks ago threw five interceptions in the first half of a 54-24 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers.
“We’ll see,” McCoy said. “If Tyrod can’t go, we’ll support Nate and try to make it easier for him.”
Taylor was hurt on the first play from scrimmage and continued playing through the first minute of the fourth quarter. He would only nod his head, “yes,” when asked by The Associated Press if he was OK following the game.
The Patriots (10-2) won their eighth straight game and inched closer to clinching their ninth consecutive AFC East title.
After settling for field goals in building a 9-3 first-half lead, Rex Burkhead scored two touchdowns rushing on New England’s first two possessions of the third quarter.
New England won its 14th consecutive road game – the NFL’s second-best streak behind San Francisco’s 18-0 run spanning the 1988-90 seasons. The Patriots also improved to 30-5 over Buffalo since Bill Belichick took over in 2000.
Quarterback Tom Brady improved to 27-3 over the Bills to break Brett Favre’s NFL record for most wins by a quarterback against one opponent. Favre beat Detroit 26 times.
Brady’s frustrations spilled over in the first quarter after a 14-play drive ended with a 50-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski. TV cameras caught Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in a heated discussion on the sideline.
“It’s just football,” Brady said. “We’ve been around each other a lot. I love Josh.”
Brady finished 21 of 30 for 256 yards and an interception, and became the fourth player to top 65,000 career yards. Improving his total to 65,214, he joins Peyton Manning (71,940), Favre (71,838) and Drew Brees (69,409).
Brady also won his 55th career game in December, most by a quarterback in any calendar month.
TOM NOT-SO TERRIFIC
Brady, whose 66 touchdowns against the Bills are his most against any opponent, failed to throw one for just the fourth game against Buffalo. The previous time that happened was in a 17-9 loss in the 2014 season finale, when Brady played just one half. He was also shutout in a 31-0 loss in the 2003 season opener, as well as his first win against the Bills – 12-9 on Dec. 16, 2001.
Buffalo has lost four of five since getting off to a 5-2 start. The Bills have failed to have a winning record through 12 games in all but two seasons (7-5 in both 2000 and 2014) during their 17-year playoff drought – the longest active streak in North America’s four major professional sports.
Third-string quarterback Joe Webb had three carries for 27 yards as the Bills introduced a wildcat wrinkle to their offense. Webb also had one incompletion, overthrowing a wide-open Travaris Cadet over the middle.
Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore wasn’t received warmly upon his return to Buffalo. Gilmore, selected 10th by the Bills in the 2012 draft, signed a five-year, $65 million contract with New England in March.
Credited with three tackles and two passes defensed, Gilmore was booed each time a pass was thrown in his direction.
“Yeah, I’m not surprised,” Gilmore said. “They are fans and they feel some type of way that I am on the Patriots, so it’s all good.”