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New England's Brady beats Bledsoe again

©Associated Press
November 4, 2002

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Tom Brady exchanged cordial greetings with former teammate Drew Bledsoe before and after Sunday's game.

Brady saved his biggest statement for the game, sparking the Patriots over the Bills 38-7.

Brady was 23 of 27 for 310 yards and four touchdowns, the most efficient performance of his career. His 154.1 rating was 4.2 points short of perfection.

The defending Super Bowl champions snapped a four-game losing streak to climb back into the AFC East race. And it came against Bledsoe, the Patriots' former franchise player, who faced New England for the first time since being traded to the Bills in April.

In a game billed as "The Bledsoe Bowl," Brady showed up his former mentor a year after taking his job. Brady, however, said that was the "last thought on my mind."

A better explanation for Brady was the Patriots reclaiming a sense of urgency.

"For one reason or another, the last four weeks we just haven't played Patriot football," Brady said.

Patriots running back Antowain Smith made a major contribution against his former team with 111 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

The Bills had their three-game win streak snapped.

Bledsoe, who entered as the league's leading passer, didn't exactly have an off day, going 28 of 45 for 302 yards. But he was stymied by an aggressive defense, which at times lined up in curious formations, including a four-man linebacker front.

"Back to the drawing board after that," Bledsoe said. "After the game, you shake hands and live to fight another day."

Ahead 17-7 at the half, the Patriots put the game away with a 14-point third quarter.

The backbreaker came with the Patriots ahead 24-7 and facing fourth and 3 at the Bills 34. Brady hit Smith for a 5-yard pass, and five plays later, Smith capped the 76-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.

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