HEATH EVANSrecalls one other time when his football team scored touchdowns on its firstseven possessions. "When I was four," Evans, the Patriots fullback,said following his team's 56--10 throttling of the Bills on Sunday night, agame that looked more like schoolyard recess than a meeting of divisionrivals.
This is what lifeis like for the New England offense, the neighborhood bully whom everyone cansee coming and no one can stop. The Patriots work out of the shotgun, the Iformation and three-receiver sets. They pound defensive lines, cross uplinebackers and frustrate defensive backs.
Then the secondquarter begins.
They did it againfor three hours in chilly Orchard Park, N.Y., on Sunday, flawlessly executingoffensive coordinator Josh McDaniels's play sheet, a mix of 29 runs, 41 throwsand endless Buffalo confusion. Tom Brady fell into a quick rhythm, spreadingthe football to seven receivers before Matt Cassel relieved him with 10:57remaining. "We have incredible coaching," said Brady, who finished thegame 31 of 39 for 373 yards and five touchdowns, four of them to Randy Moss."Josh, for a young guy, is as good as anybody I've seen."
The 31-year-oldMcDaniels, who took over as New England's offensive coordinator in January2006, could soon go the way of Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and Charlie Weis,former Bill Belichick assistants now running their own teams. It's easy to seewhy. The Patriots have scored a franchise-record 54 touchdowns—after just 10games—and are only 16 TDs behind the NFL mark of 70, set by Dan Marino's 1984Miami Dolphins.
Belichick put hisplayers through a taxing week of physical and mental reps leading up to theBills game, letting the team know it hasn't accomplished its goals. "Hetore our heads off Monday, he tore our heads off Wednesday, Thursday, Fridayand Saturday," Moss said. "He put that humble pie casserole on us. Icommend him for his tunnel vision."
The motivationmanifested itself in backbreaking drives that highlighted New England's abilityto exploit the slightest mistake. Case in point: Leading 7--0 in the firstquarter, the Pats took over at their own 37. After Brady hit Wes Welker for aseven-yard gain, Donte' Stallworth dropped a ball down the left sideline thatmight have ended in a score. But on third-and-three Brady found tight end BenWatson down the middle for 15 yards. When Laurence Maroney lost two yards andMoss dropped a pass on second down, New England faced a third-and-12 from theBuffalo 43. Here's where things got interesting. The Bills rushed two defendersand dropped nine into zone coverage. Brady, bobbing behind his sturdy line,shifted his eyes around the field. "When they play zone coverage you try tospace the field and pick the guy you think is most open," Brady said."Like playing point guard." Buffalo safety George Wilson caught aglimpse of the quarterback as Welker and Moss appeared in front of him. "Isaw Brady rolling," Wilson said later. "I had Welker inside of me on aseam, and I had Moss outside of me. I jumped the inside one. Broke the Number 1DB rule, which is [never] to stop moving your feet."
As Moss headedtoward the end zone, Brady threw a pass just inside the front right pylon.Wilson looked up, and the ball was coming toward him. "I thought I had ashot at it because it was pretty low," he said. "But as I went back, Ijumped and the ball was over my head."
Moss caught itover Wilson's hands, backpedaled into the end zone, and the rout was on.
"They justkept coming at us," Wilson said. "Kept coming at us, coming atus."
And they won't bestopping anytime soon.
NO MAS Four Moss first-half TDs meant an early end in Buffalo.