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Juggernaut tramples Bills' upset dreams

Try to look on the bright side. At least they didn't lose on a last-second field goal. They didn't lead you to the brink of a big home win and then rip your heart out at the end.

No, this one was essentially over before it began. It was quick and painless, unless you happened to be one of the hapless Buffalo defensive players trying to stop Tom Brady. At the risk of sounding like an apologist for the home lads, it was hard to imagine any team in the NFL hanging with the amazing Patriots on Sunday night.

The Patriots beat the Bills, 56-10, to run their unbeaten streak to 10 games. At least, I think that was the final score. For all I know, Brady is still standing back there, firing touchdown lasers to Randy Moss. Hand them the Super Bowl trophy. No one in the league stands a chance against these guys -- unless someone kidnaps Brady.

Bills coach Dick Jauron said beforehand that the Pats didn't have any weaknesses. He wasn't kidding. All right, their punter might be average, but who would know? The guy never steps on the field. Brady might have a weakness for hot models, but otherwise it's hard to find a flaw.

For years, I've been calling Brady the best player in the NFL. It's time to re-evaluate. Brady is making a case for himself as the best player in the history of the league. He was 31 for 39 for 373 yards and five TDs. At halftime, he was 22 for 28 for 287 yards and four TDs, all to Randy Moss.

"To tell you the truth, I really can't tell you what went wrong," said strong safety Donte Whitner. "They just came ready to play and every mistake we made, they took advantage of it. You can't make any mistakes against Brady. Right now, in my opinion, he's the best quarterback in the league."

When the NFL switched this game to Sunday night, we wanted to believe it was because the Bills had become such a touching comeback story. But really, it's pretty clear that they wanted America to see the Patriot juggernaut march toward history. And of course, to watch Bill Belichick go for it on fourth down with his team ahead by 35 points.
You figured the best the Bills could hope for was to play well, throw a scare into the Patriots and come away with a moral victory. But their worst fears came to pass. They got embarrassed in front of the nation. It quickly became apparent that the only moral victory would be holding the Pats below 50 points.

The high point of the evening came just before the opening kickoff, when Kevin Everett's image appeared on the video scoreboard via an NBC feed. Everett, who has made a remarkable recovery from the spinal injury he suffered in the opener here against Denver, made a brief statement from his home in Houston.

Everett thanked his teammates, the city of Buffalo and football fans around the country for their support and love during his ordeal. "It's been special to me," Everett said, "and let's go beat New England."

Everett's message, brief as it was, sent a surge of emotion through an already electrified home crowd. Optimistic Bills fans wanted to see it as an omen, a sign that amazing things might be in store. After all, Everett's recovery has been a small miracle. Maybe the Bills could confound the odds, too.

The Pats were ahead, 14-0, before Everett's image had fully faded from the screen. J.P. Losman, who was dreadful overall, threw a TD bomb to Roscoe Parrish, giving Buffalo fans brief hope. But Brady kept on throwing, and Moss kept running free in the secondary, as if playing against a bunch of junior high kids. One minute into the fourth quarter, it was 56-10, and I had this horrifying thought: They might score 70!

It's no disgrace to get blown out by the Patriots. They scored 52 against Gregg Williams' Washington defense, 48 against Wade Phillips' Cowboys. But I never expected it to be this bad. The Bills had allowed just 48 points in their previous four games combined.

But this wasn't Tony Romo or Cleo Lemon. It was Brady, who plays in a different universe. This was a puzzle beyond anything Perry Fewell had ever confronted. Still, it's hard to sit here and rip apart the Bills' defense, which has played so well this season despite a rash of injuries.

How do you rip the defensive backs for getting abused by Brady? Do you find fault with people whose homes get blown to bits by a tornado? They're hardly alone. Brady has cut some of the best secondaries in football to shreds. The Pats are averaging more than 40 points a game.

I don't imagine the typical American viewer was sitting in front of the TV set, muttering about how bad the Bills were. No, he was sitting there, mouth agape, astounded at the surgical efficiency of Brady and the Pats' offense. Even if you go back to Sammy Baugh, chances are you've never seen anything quite like it.

The Bills can't allow this embarrassment to ruin them. I doubt they'll let that happen. They've gone through a lot this year, starting with Everett's injury in the first game. They've bounced back from all of it, and I suspect they'll come back from this, too.

If they win at Jacksonville next week, the Bills go to 6-5 and they're still alive in the playoff race. This was just one loss. Whether you lose by 46 points or one, it's still one game. But boy, was it ugly. It was the most points allowed by an NFL team at home in 34 years.

"It's going to be painful, but we have to go in and watch the film tomorrow," Whitner said. "We'll learn from our mistakes and move on to Jacksonville. We have to put this behind us, and we will."


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