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Time-Expiring Field Goal Sinks Pats vs. Bills

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Buffalo Bills' Drayton Florence celebrates his interception for a touchdown against the New England Patriots during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011. The Bills won 34-31. (AP Photo/David Duprey)

Buffalo Bills’ Drayton Florence celebrates his interception for a touchdown against the New England Patriots during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011. The Bills won 34-31. (AP Photo/David Duprey)

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By JOHN WAWROW
AP Sports Writer

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) _ Time to Bill-ieve?

Ryan Fitzpatrick and the new-look, resilient, win-in-the-clutch
Buffalo Bills are showing they’re for real after producing their
second consecutive stunning comeback victory _ this time against
their AFC East nemesis, the New England Patriots.

Rian Lindell hit a 28-yard field goal as time expired to cap a
34-31 win over the Patriots in which the Bills overcame a 21-0
second-quarter deficit and snapped a 15-game losing streak against
New England.

It was a win for the new generation of Bills, who don’t know any
better. And the victory was particularly cherished by senior
members such as linebacker Chris Kelsay, one of four Buffalo
players still on hand since the team’s last victory over New
England, in the 2003 season opener.

“It’s the biggest win of my career. I can’t think of any
bigger,” Kelsay said. “To beat these guys at home, in front of
our fans, with the way they’re behind us despite being down early,
it’s huge. I’ll never forget it.”

Former Bills lineman Ruben Brown hugged Buffalo players as they
ran up the tunnel. Running back Fred Jackson ran around the field
carrying a Bills flag. And stadium workers took no chances, first
guarding the goal posts before lowering them on their own before
fans got any ideas.

It was that kind of euphoric win for a team attempting to turn
around a dreadful past in which it has gone 11 seasons without
making the playoffs. And it’s a victory that suddenly has the Bills
(3-0) alone in first place atop the division after the New York
Jets (2-1) lost at Oakland.

The Bills won courtesy of yet another Fitzpatrick-led rally. It
was reminiscent of what they did in a 38-35 win over Oakland a week
earlier, when Buffalo scored touchdowns on their final five
possession to overcome a 21-3 deficit.

Fitzpatrick went 27 of 40 for 369 yards and two touchdowns.
Jackson once again provided a spark with 72 yards rushing and a
touchdown, and 87 yards receiving, including a 38-yard catch that
set up Lindell’s decisive kick.

The Patriots (2-1) had a 10-game regular-season winning streak
snapped and suddenly find themselves looking up in the standings at
Buffalo. Aside from their 15-game win streak, third longest in NFL
history for one franchise against another, the Pats had won 20 of
the past 21 over the Bills.

“Obviously, it was a disappointing loss for us today,”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “We’ve just got to do a better
job.”

Wes Welker had 16 catches for a franchise record 217 yards and
two scores, and Rob Gronkowski also scored twice. Tom Brady went 30
of 45 for 386 yards and four scores for New England, but
uncharacteristically unraveled.

Despite setting a league record for most yards passing over a
three-game stretch, Brady matched a career worst with four
interceptions. That included Drayton Florence’s 27-yard
interception return for a touchdown with 10:22 left that came 14
seconds after Jackson tied the game at 24 with a 1-yard plunge.

“We played a good football team and made too many mistakes,”
said Brady, whose four interceptions against Buffalo matched the
number he had all of last season. “It’s never easy. … We had too
many turnovers, too many penalties that allowed them to get some
easy plays. … I just wish we would have made a few less
mistakes.”

Dating to 1950, the Bills became the only team to overcome
deficits of at least 18 points to win in consecutive weeks,
according to STATS LLC. In fact, only five teams had previously won
twice in one season when trailing by 18 or more points.

The last team to do so: the Patriots in 1996.

The game wasn’t decided until the final four minutes, and after
Brady led the Patriots back to tie the score at 31 on a 6-yard
touchdown pass to Welker _ on fourth-and-goal, no less.

Back marched the Bills, who got the ball back with 3:25 left.

Fitzpatrick needed only three plays to get the Bills into
scoring position.

Facing first-and-10 at the Patriots 39, Fitzpatrick hit Jackson
on a short crossing pattern over the middle. Jackson broke loose
and was attempting to dive into the end zone before being tackled
from behind by Devin McCourty.

Officials initially ruled Jackson had scored before having it
overturned on video review.

That wound up an advantage to the Bills, who ran down the clock
by kneeling. The Patriots ran out of timeouts _ and composure as an
unsportmanlike conduct penalty against Vince Wilfork gave Buffalo
another set of downs at the 1.

All it took was Lindell to line up and hit a chip shot with the
crowd cheering and standing on its feet.

“That’s the loudest I’ve ever heard it in here,” Lindell said.
“Certainly they’ve been the team to beat. It’s definitely a step
in the right direction.”

Stevie Johnson had eight catches for 94 yards and a touchdown
for Buffalo. Tight end Scott Chandler also scored on a 3-yard
catch.

Notes: Brady has 1,326 yards passing in three games to eclipse
the mark of 1,257 set in 2006 by New Orleans QB Drew Brees. It was
also Brady’s 37th 300-yard career game, moving him into ninth
place, one ahead of John Elway. … This marked the fourth time and
first since 1992 that Buffalo’s opened a season scoring 30 points
in each of its first three games. … The Patriots extended their
franchise-record streak to 11 games of scoring 30 points or more,
three short of matching the NFL record set by the St. Louis Rams in
1999-2000.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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