It had been quite a long time since the New England Patriots had scored a defensive touchdown. To be exact, a Pats defender had last reached the end zone during Week 17 of 2015. That 40-game drought was the longest active streak of its kind in the NFL.
Devin McCourty made sure that the streak did not reach 41.
On a night in which the Patriots defense stifled the Buffalo Bills’ offense, McCourty returned an interception 84 yards, en route to a 25-6 win on Monday night in Orchard Park, NY.
For much of the game, the Patriots’ offense was stymied by a stout effort by the Bills’ defense. Quarterback Tom Brady was often under stringent pressure and the high-powered Pats’ offense could not find the endzone. Stephen Gostkowski delivered the first 12 points of the night for New England. The Patriots kicker hit four of five field-goal attempts, including two from 25 yards after New England drives stalled inside Buffalo’s 10.
Bills’ kicker Stephen Hauschka connected on two field goals, including a 51-yarder which cut the Patriots lead to 9-6 in the third quarter. However, Brady and the Patriots would not be denied a trip to the endzone. Although the fans at New Era Field began to sense Patriots’ blood in the icy waters of upstate New York, Brady led the Pats on a methodical drive that would be capped with a 1-yard touchdown rush by running back James White.
On the ensuing drive, Bills quarterback Derek Anderson nearly connected with tight end Jason Croom on a diving one-handed touchdown attempt. However, the play was negated following a video review. Replays clearly showed Croom never had possession in attempting to make the 25-yard catch, which would have made it a one-score game.
Just two plays later, McCourty sealed the win for the Pats with 5:54 remaining by intercepting Anderson’s pass over the middle intended for Bills running back LeSean McCoy.
Brady finished 29 of 45 for 324 yards, but was held without a touchdown pass for the first time this season. For the Patriots, it was their fifth straight win. New England improved to 6-2 on the season, and maintains first place in the AFC East.
Tom Brady improved to 29-3 all-time against Buffalo, the most wins by a starting quarterback versus one team in the Super Bowl era.
Although he has never worn a Bills uniform, Brady has the third-most wins in games played in Buffalo with 15. He trails only former Bills quarterbacks Jim Kelly (59) and Joe Ferguson (46)
The Patriots beat Buffalo for the seventh straight time and improved to 32-5 in their last 37 meetings under head coach Bill Belichick.
The Patriots welcome Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts on Sunday, November 4 at 8pm
-Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the NFL and the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC