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Pats unlikely to give much away vs. Bills

Chris Kelsay saw the cameras and notepads converging on his locker Wednesday afternoon and knew it was time for the twice-yearly ritual.

"Every time we stand here before New England week and we say the same thing," Kelsay said. "They've definitely had our number."

The number is 14, to be precise. That's how many times the Bills have lost to the Patriots in a row since beating them here in the opener of the 2003 season. Kelsay remembers it well, because it also happened to be his first game in the NFL.

"I remember it clear as day," Kelsay said. "It was 31-0. We ended up playing them in the last game of the year. They beat us, 31-0, and they wound up winning the Super Bowl."

Kelsay is 31, in his eighth NFL season. The defensive end is eager to get that second win over Bill Belichick and Co. But there's another troubling number to consider as the Bills prepare to take on the high-flying Pats this Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium: Nine. That's how many times the Patriots have turned the ball over this season.

Peyton Manning and the Colts had nine turnovers in a recent two-game stretch against the Chargers and Cowboys. The Pats are well on their way to breaking the record for fewest turnovers in a season (13), set by both the Giants and Dolphins in 2008.

The Pats have played six straight games without giving the ball away, an NFL record. Not coincidentally, they've won all six -- improving to an AFC-best 12-2 -- and averaged 37.8 points a game during that stretch. Tom Brady has thrown 292 passes without an interception, 16 shy of Bernie Kosar's record.

"I mean, it's crazy to see the numbers," Kelsay said. "It's mind-boggling, really, because defenses these days are too good, jumping routes and getting hands on balls. I don't care how good you are."

The Pats have been surgically efficient on offense. They've had to be, to compensate for a defense that is 28th in total yards allowed and 32nd on third downs. Brady has played at an MVP level -- maybe better than in 2007, when he threw 50 TD passes and the Pats went 16-0.

Brady's streak began after the Pats traded Randy Moss. He has done it with two rookie tight ends (Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez), a couple of undrafted running backs (BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead) and a recycled Deion Branch. Oh, and he's been without injured veteran Kevin Faulk, one of the top third-down backs of his time.

So how do you get Brady to turn the ball over? The Bills had one interception the first half of the season. But they have eight picks in the last five games, plus five fumble recoveries.

Maybe the law of averages will come crashing down on Brady's head Sunday. It's not as if the Pats are playing it safe on offense, throwing a lot of conservative checkdowns. They go after defenses. They've done it on the road, in the cold and snow.

"They're attacking the weakness of the coverages that Brady sees week in and week out," safety Donte Whitner said. "So we have to do a good job of mixing up the things we do, throw some new things in there to attack him. At one point, Cleveland (the last team to beat New England) dropped all 11 guys into coverage without rushing anybody.

"Sometimes it takes things like that to beat quarterbacks who have seen every defense and know where to go with the ball. You have to do some unconventional things sometimes."

After seven years, simply beating the Pats would be a wild and unconventional event. But Whitner is right. They've got to be aggressive and take it from the Pats, because no team in NFL history has been less willing to give the football away.

e-mail: jsullivan@buffnews.com

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