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Snow thrower Pats issue passing dare, Bills flunk challenge

Here's the complete summary of the big-cheer moments for Buffalo Bills fans from Sunday's football game in Ralph Wilson Stadium:

1. Four minutes into the game, J.P. Losman threw a 58-yard pass to Lee Evans.

2. With seven minutes left, Doug Flutie took the field as the New England quarterback, to the delight of several thousand nostalgic Flutie admirers.

Everything in between was a snow-encrusted snooze for the 71,810 who endured the Patriots' 35-7 rout of the Bills.

"I apologize," Bills safety Troy Vincent said. "You hear the boos from the fans. . . . They come to see good competition and they come to see us win, and they haven't been getting it -- not even close."

The biggest reason the Bills' fourth straight loss was not even close was this: Losman and the passing offense were horrible.

The Patriots showed a lack of respect for the Bills' passing game by stacking up against the run, daring the Bills to throw, then blitzing six men in almost every obvious passing situation, even though their secondary is a fife-and-drum corps.

Aside from the one long throw to Evans, the Bills couldn't make the Pats pay.

Through 57 minutes, Losman had thrown for 105 yards and had a passer rating of 8.5.

"Sometimes as a quarterback, you are just a little off," Losman said. "At this level you can't afford to have an off day. You can't afford to have a bad game. . . . I did not help my team as much as they counted on me to."

That Losman struggled in his first game against Pats coach Bill Belichick was hardly a shock. Belichick has made a career out of humiliating quarterbacks. Last week, the Pats executed a very similar plan against young Jets quarterback Brooks Bollinger, who had a 39.8 rating in losing to the Pats.

The Patriots have blitzed very little most of the season due to all their secondary injuries. The last two games they blitzed like mad.

"I did feel they were daring us to pass," tight end Mark Campbell said. "Due to the weather and us not executing, we didn't do it. The last game against them we ran the ball well, and they weren't going to let that happen again."

The Bills' run game managed 14 yards on 12 attempts.

"We wanted to stop the run first and foremost and force (Losman) to pass, and that's pretty much what we did," Pats safety Michael Stone said.

"We needed to hit some passes to get the rhythm going," coach Mike Mularkey said. "That was the biggest key. It also prevented the runs because they had too many guys in the box. If you're not completing passes when you're throwing it, the defense is not going to get out (of the tackle-to-tackle area). They didn't have to the whole game."

After making a great throw to Evans, Losman took the Bills' momentum away by misreading the coverage and throwing an end-zone interception on a third-and-goal play from the Pats' 22. Evans ran a flat route underneath toward the left sideline while Sam Aiken ran a corner route behind him. Losman didn't see Pats corner Asante Samuel quickly back off his man, Evans, and easily move into position for the pickoff.

"It was a bad read by J.P. on the throw," Mularkey said. "We had Lee underneath."

Losman also was off target, usually short of his mark, on a bunch of other throws.

"Some balls got away from me, but I don't think the weather had anything to do with it," Losman said.

The Bills went three plays and out -- or worse -- on seven of their first 10 possessions, excluding halftime. Only seven times in their history have they managed fewer than the eight first downs they gained. Losman finished 10 of 27 passing for 181 yards with one touchdown, three interceptions and a rating of 33.6.

"I think we're still learning how to play the game at certain positions," linebacker London Fletcher said. "Unfortunately, it's been a baptism for our team at certain positions because we're so young and fresh. . . . I think it's more the experience level that's the big difference now."

Of course, Losman was operating with a giant handicap. His leading receiver, Eric Moulds, was watching from the stands due to his one-game suspension. Moulds' replacement, Aiken, had one catch for 8 yards. No. 3 receiver Roscoe Parrish had one catch for 5 yards.

Losman also got hit repeatedly by the blitzing Patriots.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had no such trouble. He completed 29 of 38 passes for 329 yards with two TDs and two INTs. His passer rating was 97.4.

"He has the ability to find the weakest point of the defense all the time, and that's where he throws," cornerback Terrence McGee said.

It was the worst Bills loss in two years, since the Pats beat them, 31-0, to end the 2003 season. It was the worst home loss in three years, since the Pats beat them, 38-7, in 2002.

The Patriots (8-5) remained two games in front of Miami in the AFC East. The Bills (4-9) were finally mathematically eliminated from the playoff hunt.

"Obviously, it was a poor performance," Mularkey said. "Disappointing. It seems like everything that could go wrong, did go wrong."

e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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