By Art Martone
Another day, another dominating victory by the Patriots. Ho hum, right?
Not according to coach Bill Belichick.
"It was a tough week," the coach said after Sunday's 34-3 pasting of the Bills. "I really have a lot of respect for our players."
The team was without four starters -- guard Dan Connolly (concussion), tight end Aaron Hernandez (hip), defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick (shoulderflu) and linebacker Jermaine Cunningham (calf) -- in addition to another pair of defensive linemen, Mike Wright (concussion) and Myron Pryor (back). All of them were declared 'out' on Saturday, and it was the culmination of a difficult time in Foxboro.
"We had a bunch of guys with the flu," said Belichick. "And the injuries; bumps and bruises coming off the Green Bay game. We had a hard time practicing this week.
"But they did a good job and fought through it. I'm proud of them for that."
So was quarterback Tom Brady.
"Every team has those weeks when some guys are and some guys are out," said Brady. "The guys fought through it and showed some mental toughness. That's been a big word for us this year."
Brady finished 15-of-27 passing for 140 yards and set the NFL recordfor most attempts (319) without an interception. He topped the mark setby Bernie Kosar in the 1990 and '91 seasons.
"What's my reaction?" said Brady, repeating a reporter's question. "I'm glad I'm not throwing interceptions."
The snow in New England didn't reach Buffalo, but it still affected the Patriots. They're grounded in upstate New York for at least a day since they're not able to fly back to Foxboro while the storm is raging.
"Pretty excited about that," said Belichick with a sarcastic smile.
The Pats have now won 15 straight games against Buffalo. They haven't lost to the Bills since the opener of the 2003 season . . . a.k.a. the Lawyer Milloy Game.
The only two longer streaks in NFL history: The Dolphins' 20 straight victories over the Bills from 1970-79, and the 49ers' 17 straight over the Rams from 1990-98.
The Patriots have an incredible plus-27 turnover ratio this year, with 36 takeaways against only 9 turnovers.
The Patriots haven't lost a fumble or thrown an interception in seven games, the longest streak in NFL history.
Wes Welker dropped two passes Sunday, giving him a dozen drops for the year.
The Patriots scored 24 (or more) first-half points for the third time in the last four games, and for the fourth time this year.
Brady has thrown two or more touchdown passes in eight consecutive games.
The Patriots rushed for 217 yards, the second time this season they've rushed for 200 or more yards and their most rushing yards since they gained 277 at Oakland on Dec. 14, 2008.
Rob Gronkowski's two touchdown receptions lifted his season total to nine and tied the franchise record for touchdown catches by a rookie. He's tied with Jim Colclough (1960) and Randy Vataha (1971).
Art Martone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.