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FOXBORO, Mass. -- Doug Flutie was about to become the hero of the day.

Hometown boy returns after nine-year absence and leads his team to a dramatic comeback victory.

The scene was all set for the Buffalo Bills' quarterback to march triumphantly off the field.

Then the New England Patriots snatched the victory from the hands of the Bills in the final seconds. And Flutie was left to ponder where the Bills go from their 25-21 defeat to the Patriots.

"I'm just shaking my head at the way it finished," Flutie said. "I don't like that. If he jumps up and makes a play on that ball and catches it he deserves it . . . I could live with that. But I can't live with the fact some guy's got an arm that's touching another guy who's jumping for the ball and they're giving them the game on that."

Flutie, of course, was referring to the pass interference call on Bills safety Henry Jones on a Hail Mary pass in the end zone at the end of Sunday's game.

That play, and the ensuing touchdown the Pats' scored, overshadowed a superb day by Flutie.

He threw for 339 yards, a career high in the NFL. He had two touchdowns and no interceptions. He led the Bills on three second-half scoring drives, including a march to a go-ahead touchdown with 6:14 left in the game.

"I played hard and made some plays and we gave ourselves a chance to win," Flutie said. "It's just frustrating to have it end like this."

The Bills outgained the Patriots, 428-259, and Flutie had plenty of help from his receiving corps.

Eric Moulds made a remarkable one-handed catch near midfield and turned it into an 84-yard score in the third quarter that pulled the Bills within 14-12.

"It was just a play where I ran a quick slant," said Moulds. "Ty Law was playing man-to-man and so I just wanted to run a good route, and Doug made a great throw."

Flutie helped the Bills convert 7 of 14 third-down plays.

The most remarkable came on the Bills' final scoring drive. On third and 11 from the Bills' 41, Flutie scrambled toward the left sideline. He leaped between two Patriots, spun in the air, fell backward and extended his arm and the ball forward to the first-down marker. It was an 11-yard gain.

Three plays later, on third and 10 from the Pats' 47, Flutie rolled to the right, outsprinted a pursuing rusher and sidearmed a nifty strike in stride to Kevin Williams, who gained 22 yards to the Pats' 25.

Flutie capped the drive with a pretty, 4-yard throw to the corner of the end zone to a diving Andre Reed, who made a superb catch.

"It was just an adjustment, and Doug threw it where I had a chance to catch it," Reed said.

Flutie received a standing ovation from the Foxboro crowd when he was introduced before the game. There were a good number of boos, but more cheers from the stands.

"Lukewarm," Flutie said of the response. "They're rooting for their hometown, and that's the way it is. I understand that. People were receptive overall. But once the game gets going, that's all forgotten about and they're rooting for their team. I understand that. . . . It was loud. It was very difficult to communicate.

"It was exciting to come back here and play and have that opportunity," Flutie said. "It's just a shame the way the game went down."

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