Thurman Thomas had his biggest rushing day of the season Sunday night. However, it was one of his rushes that did not work that stuck in his mind after the Buffalo Bills' 28-25 loss to the New England Patriots.
The Bills had a chance to kill the clock when they took possession at their own 45-yard line with 3:45 remaining. Thomas took a pitch around left end but was upended by Pats linebacker Monty Brown, who shot through the Bills' blockers to make the tackle for a 2-yard loss. The Bills ran the ball, then threw an incomplete screen pass. Pats defensive end Willie McGinest batted down the pass, the Bills punted and the Pats mounted their go-ahead drive.
"Monty Brown shot through the gap," Thomas said. "One reason we ran it was late in the game against them in Buffalo, their safeties blitzed a lot and we felt we could get outside on them. Their safety did blitz on the play, and they were coming upfield. Tim Tindale got a great knockout block, and if somebody hit Brown, we would have taken it a long way."
The outcome defied one of the Bills' usual keys to victory. Thomas rushed for 119 yards on 26 carries against the No. 3-ranked run defense in the league.
It was just the fourth time the Bills have lost when Thomas rushed for 100 yards or more. The Bills now are 49-4 when that happens. The last previous loss was a 24-17 decision to the Jets on Dec. 6, 1992.
"We usually win ballgames when we go over 100 yards," Thomas said. "But that doesn't mean anything to me when we lose."
Thomas moved into 10th place on the NFL's all-time rushing list with 10,337 yards. He passed Ottis Anderson, who had 10,273.
The Bills used mostly a two-tight end/two-receiver attack their first seven possessions. Those resulted in six straight punts and a 23-yard, 11-play drive to a field goal.
Then the Bills switched to their K-Gun, three-receiver attack and mounted 80- and 72-yard drives to scores.
"I wish we would have gone to it in the first quarter," Thomas said. "It's something we can build on. . . . I think that's what we need to do now."
However, Thomas refrained from calling for a permanent shift to the K-Gun.
"I'm not going to complain," he said.
Numerous Bills took the same approach after the game.
"I'm not going to say this or that," said Andre Reed. "We did what we had to do. I know everybody's going to say, 'You guys should do this.' There's a lot of geniuses out there."
Reed caught four passes for 121 yards. It was the 12th time Reed had 100 yards receiving and Thomas had 100 yards rushing in the same game. It was the first time the Bills lost one of those games.
Steve Tasker, who missed the previous six games, played when the Bills went to three receivers but did not catch any passes.
"My foot didn't bother me at all," he said.
Tasker, however, did tip the ball to Reed on the Hail Mary TD pass.
"I got a hand on it," he said. "I felt I was going to get under it and I knew I wasn't going to be able to catch it. I knew Andre and Quinn (Early) were behind me. I was just trying to keep it alive."
Two Bills were reported injured in the game. Guard Ruben Brown hurt his ankle and did not play late in the fourth quarter. Tackle Glenn Parker injured his left calf muscle. He had injured his right one earlier in the season.
The Patriots were forced to shuffle their secondary because starting cornerback Ricky Reynolds missed a second straight game due to a hamstring injury.
Second-year man Jimmy Hitchcock took Reynolds' place. Safety Willie Clay played cornerback last week, but the Pats decided not to play him out of position a second straight week. Rookie Lawyer Milloy played strong safety, displacing Terry Ray, who was benched.
The Bills report there are 6,000 tickets remaining for Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins at Rich Stadium.
The Redskins game is the last 4 p.m. home start of the season for the Bills. The remaining three home games -- against Cincinnati, the Jets and Kansas City -- are 1 p.m. starts.