The Buffalo Bills looked like they had Tom Brady figured out.
That lasted about 29 minutes.
Then Brady started doing Brady things, and the New England Patriots started doing what they do, coming out ahead one crucial play after another Monday night.
New England beat Buffalo, 20-13, in Gillette Stadium.
So much about this game was unusual, although not the result. Brady looked ordinary for almost the entire first half. Amherst native Rob Gronkowski did not dominate his hometown team for a change. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal after making 31 in a row.
Yet without top target Julian Edelman, second-best wide receiver Danny Amendola for the fourth quarter with an injury and important reserve Aaron Dobson hobbling off in the first quarter, Bill Belichick's team still found a way.
New England's defense contained Tyrod Taylor, who underthrew receivers throughout. He had completed 70.5 percent of his throws this year, but connected on just 55.6 percent Monday night.
Taylor seemed to injure his right shoulder or collar bone late in the fourth quarter -- bad enough that EJ Manuel warmed up on the sideline -- but the extent of Taylor's problem was unknown as of this posting.
Leodis McKelvin fumbled a punt return that gave the Patriots a point-blank field goal and a 20-10 lead at the end of the third quarter. McKelvin bobbled another punt before the Bills' final possession, but fell on the ball at the 16-yard line.
Bills running back LeSean McCoy ran 20 times for 82 yards and a touchdown and caught six passes for 41 yards.
But the Bills trailed for the last quarter and a half, heightening their need to pass.
Sammy Watkins, untargeted until the third quarter, finished with three catches for 39 yards -- all in the fourth quarter. Tight end Charles Clay had one reception for 14 yards (not a misprint).
Chris Hogan had six receptions for 95 yards (also not a misprint).
Gronkowski had one catch for 10 yards at the start of the fourth quarter. He added only one more reception, but it went for 27 yards.
Story topics: bill belichick/ Charles Clay/ Danny Amendola/ ej manuel/ Julian Edelman/ Leodis McKelvin/ LeSean McCoy/ Rex Ryan/ Rob Gronkowski/ Sammy Watkins/ Stephen Gostkowski/ tom brady/ Tyrod Taylor