New England Patriots' Tedy Bruschi (54) celebrates as teammate Richard Seymour scores a touchdown after picking up a fumble by Buffalo Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe in the fourth quarter in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Oct. 3, 2004. The Patriots won, 31-17.
AP Photo/David Duprey
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- With Tom Brady at quarterback and a stingy, opportunistic defense, it's difficult to imagine when the New England Patriots might lose again.
Brady and defensive end Richard Seymour combined to secure the Patriots' record-tying 18th straight victory, 31-17 over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Brady put the Patriots ahead for good with a 2-yard scoring pass to tight end Daniel Graham four minutes into the fourth quarter. The Patriots' defense did the rest.
With New England ahead 24-17, the victory was clinched when Seymour picked up quarterback Drew Bledsoe's fumble and ran it 68 yards for a touchdown with 2:44 remaining.
It's now been 53 weeks since the Patriots lost, a 20-17 defeat at Washington on Sept. 28, 2003. New England has won 15 straight regular-season games, including three to start this season, and three straight in the playoffs, including last February's Super Bowl.
The Patriots tied a record held by four other NFL teams -- Chicago did it twice -- and also by the 1947-48 AAFC Cleveland Browns. They're the first to win 18 straight since Denver in 1997-98.
New England gets an opportunity to break the record by hosting Miami next weekend.
Brady went 17-for-30 for 298 yards and two touchdowns, including a 30-yard pass to David Patten. Corey Dillon had 79 yards rushing and a touchdown. Adam Vinatieri also hit a 42-yard field goal.
The Bills bumbled to their third straight loss this season, reflective of a team that's won only 17 games since the start of 2001. Bledsoe finished 18-of-30 for 247 yards and a touchdown. But he was intercepted once and sacked seven times.
Cardinals 34, Saints 10
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Emmitt Smith earned another NFL record with his 77th 100-yard rushing game, and threw the first pass of his 15-year pro career. It went for a touchdown.
The NFL's career rushing leader had his best game since leaving Dallas two years ago, gaining 127 yards in 21 carries. It gave Dennis Green his first victory as Cardinals coach.
Smith, six months past his 35th birthday, tied Walter Payton's record of 77 games with 100 yards. It was his first 100-yard game since Thanksgiving 2002, when he did it for Dallas against Washington.
The Cardinals (1-3) rushed for 211 yards against the mistake-prone Saints (2-2).
Jets 17, Dolphins 9
MIAMI -- The Jets came up with four turnovers by quarterback Jay Fiedler in the second half, including an interception returned 66 yards for a touchdown by Donnie Abraham, to improve to 3-0 for only the third time in franchise history. New York also won its first three games in 1966 and 2000.
The Dolphins fell to 0-4 for the first time since their expansion season in 1966. They've scored two touchdowns this year while committing 14 turnovers and will need dramatic improvement on offense to avoid their first losing season since 1988.
New York's Curtis Martin topped 100 yards rushing for the third game in a row and the 50th time in his career, moving into 10th place on the NFL's all-time rushing list. He totaled 110 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown, and became the 11th NFL player to rush for 12,000 yards. He has 12,094, passing Thurman Thomas, who has 12,074.
Colts 24, Jaguars 17
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Peyton Manning was 13-for-13 for 162 yards on three touchdown drives to lead the Colts.
Jacksonville (3-1) played a fourth consecutive close game -- it won the first three by a combined seven points, but couldn't pull this one out.
After Edgerrin James' 3-yard touchdown run gave the Colts a 24-17 lead, Jacksonville drove into Indy territory with less than two minutes to play. But Fred Taylor came up short on fourth-and-1, and the Colts (3-1) ran out the clock.
Indy pulled even with Jacksonville in the AFC South, but has a distinct edge with road wins over the Jaguars and Titans.
Steelers 28, Bengals 17
PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger, showing uncommon poise for a rookie not expected to play this season, twice rallied the Steelers and Duce Staley ran for 123 yards.
Roethlisberger went 17-of-25 for 174 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions to easily better Carson Palmer in a QB duel that may be repeated for years in the AFC North. Palmer drove the Bengals (1-3) to touchdowns on their opening drives of each half, but ended the game with consecutive interceptions.
The Steelers are 3-1 for the second time in four seasons and are 2-0 since Roethlisberger became the starter when Tommy Maddox injured his right elbow. Maddox isn't due back until next month at the earliest.
Giants 14, Packers 7
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Tiki Barber ran for a 52-yard touchdown and 182 yards in all, Kurt Warner threw a touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey, and Packers quarterback Brett Favre was knocked from the game with a head injury.
The Giants improved to 3-1 despite a series of missed opportunities, including three errant field goal attempts by Steve Christie.
The Packers, trying to overcome infighting and injuries, fell to 1-3 for the first time since 1993 and have their first three-game losing streak under fifth-year coach Mike Sherman.
Eagles 19, Bears 9
CHICAGO -- David Akers kicked four field goals, and Donovan McNabb threw for 222 yards and a touchdown as the Eagles picked apart the injury-riddled Bears.
Terrell Owens caught eight passes for 110 yards and a touchdown, which he celebrated with sit-ups in the end zone. Brian Westbrook ran for 115 yards and caught nine passes for 63 yards as the Eagles improved to 4-0 for the first time since 1993.
All of Philadelphia's victories have been by double-digits, and this one wasn't even as close as the score indicated. The Bears fell to 1-3.
McNabb was 24-of-38 for 237 yards, but he was intercepted in the third quarter, snapping a streak dating back to last season of 161 consecutive passes without a pick.
Falcons 27, Panthers 10
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Panthers finally found a way to contain Michael Vick. And it didn't matter. The Falcons still found a way to win, moving to 4-0 to match the best start in franchise history.
Warrick Dunn had a 38-yard touchdown run and Kevin Mathis returned an interception 35 yards for another score. The Falcons last opened the season 4-0 in 1986.
Normally unable to stop Vick from racking up astronomical numbers, the Panthers (1-2) held him to 148 yards passing and 35 yards rushing in this meeting. But with all the focus on keeping Vick in check, Carolina was a mess in other areas.
Texans 30, Raiders 17
HOUSTON -- After 36 games, the Texans have their first winning streak. That means it's finally time for a haircut, David Carr.
Carr vowed last September he wouldn't cut his hair again until the Texans won consecutive games. Now he can happily head to the barber.
Carr's defensive teammates made it possible by harassing Raiders (2-2) new starting quarterback Kerry Collins into five turnovers, including each of his last four drives.
Houston (2-2) turned the first three of Collins' mistakes into 13 points: two field goals by Kris Brown, with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Carr to Andre Johnson in between.
Chargers 38, Titans 17
SAN DIEGO -- Drew Brees, who's had a tenuous grip on his job since last season, threw for three touchdowns, including a 58-yarder to Reche Caldwell midway through the fourth quarter. LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 147 yards and one touchdown for the Chargers (2-2).
The Titans (1-3) played without quarterback Steve McNair, who was reduced to being the emergency third quarterback after bruising his sternum in a loss to Jacksonville last week. Billy Volek threw for 278 yards and two TDs, but it wasn't enough to keep the Titans from losing their third straight.
Brees' big game came six days after rookie Philip Rivers was promoted from third-stringer to backup quarterback.
Browns 17, Redskins 13
CLEVELAND -- Lee Suggs, who missed Cleveland's first three games with a neck injury, rushed for 82 yards and scored on a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
From his first carry of the season, a 25-yard dash in the first quarter, the speedy Suggs gave the Browns (2-2) the spark their ground game had been missing.
Jeff Garcia went 14-of-21 for 195 yards and a TD for the Browns, who didn't secure the win until Washington's Laveranues Coles fumbled with two minutes left.
The Redskins (1-3) can pin their third straight loss on going just 1-for-11 on third downs. Mark Brunell finished 17-of-38 for 192 yards.
Broncos 16, Bucs 13
TAMPA, Fla. -- Jake Plummer threw a 5-yard TD pass to Patrick Hape and Jason Elam kicked three field goals for the Broncos (3-1).
Plummer completed 13 of 31 passes for 138 yards, saving his best for the fourth quarter when he took advantage of a 37-yard pass interference penalty to set up Elam's 24-yard field goal that snapped a 13-13 tie with 9:03 to go.
The winless Buccaneers got their only touchdown on a play on which safety John Lynch, making his emotional return to Tampa, failed to knock down a receiver who was getting up off the ground. Instead, Lynch merely touched Michael Clayton on the back, thinking the rookie was down. Clayton, whose helmet was knocked off when his head was brushed by Lynch's knee, stood up and took off for the end zone to complete a 51-yard pass play.
Rams 24, 49ers 14
SAN FRANCISCO -- Marc Bulger passed for 186 yards, Marshall Faulk rushed for 121 more and St. Louis sent the woeful 49ers to their first 0-4 start in 25 years.
Isaac Bruce had seven catches for 100 yards as the Rams (2-2) got their ninth victory in 11 games against their longtime rivals. This one was out of reach early: St. Louis built a 24-0 halftime lead, and the sellout crowd booed San Francisco off the field while heading for the exits.
Shaun McDonald caught a touchdown pass and Joey Goodspeed and Steven Jackson had 2-yard scoring runs for the Rams, who met little resistance while scoring on all four of their first-half drives.
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