ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - Randy Moss said he’s not a fan of records, but he and his teammates keep collecting them.
The Buffalo Bills were the latest victim in the Patriots Pointapalooza tour. New England scored on its first seven possessions and tied a franchise scoring record in a 56-10 blowout last night in front of 71,338 at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the latest clinic in its 10-0 start. The Patriots first set the record Sept. 9, 1979 in a 56-3 win over the New York Jets.
That mark figures to be challenged when the Patriots meet the Jets and a certain coach Dec. 16. It was the second time in three games the Patriots hung half-a-hundred on a bewildered opponent. They routed the Washington Redskins, 52-7, Oct. 28.
Three individual records fell last night along with the Bills. Moss had 10 catches for 128 yards and four touchdowns - all in the first half - to establish the franchise mark for one game, and he increased his season total to 16 TD catches, breaking a tie with Stanley Morgan for most in a Patriots season (Morgan had 12 in 1979).
Tom Brady (31 of 39 for 373 yards) tossed five touchdown passes as he became the franchise’s all-time leader in that category, bumping his career total to 185 and his season total to 38, just 11 shy of Peyton Manning’s NFL record set in 2004. Brady orchestrated a Patriots offense that rolled up a season-high 510 yards, the fourth-most in team history.
"I’ve never been a fan of records," said Moss. "I learned at a young age that records are meant to be broken. I’ve never lived on records or my name in the record book or anything like that. We have a goal and the goal is to be still playing in January. It starts with the Eagles [next Sunday night] and after that we can look down the road, but we can’t do that until we play Philadelphia."
Let the record show coach Bill Belichick did show the Bills some mercy. He sent Chris Hanson out to punt on fourth and 1 from the Buffalo 31 with 3:57 remaining. Even after a false start penalty and a chance to reconsider, the Patriots still booted the ball away, sending it into the ether like the Bills’ four-game winning streak.
Coming off their bye, the Patriots were playing the first of three straight prime-time games as their pursuit of a perfect season has become a fascination for fans across the country and a mini-referendum on whether New England is deserving of the accomplishment.
The Bills fans didn’t take to kindly to seeing their team embarrassed, especially when Belichick went for it on fourth and 1 from the Buffalo 10 with a 42-10 lead late in the third quarter. Brady competed a pass to Moss for the first down and a chorus of profanity rained down on the Patriots.
It doesn’t matter whether they’re liked or not. Nobody can stop them.
"We don’t care," said cornerback Ellis Hobbs, who scored the final touchdown on 35-yard fumble return with 13:59 left. "You can throw what you want. That just lets us know that we’re doing our job. This is not Pop Warner or anything like that. It’s the NFL. We just go out there and play football no matter what."
It only took a half for the Patriots to prove that Buffalo’s winning streak was meaningless, as they pounded the Bills into submission by intermission.
The Patriots scored on all five first-half possessions, rolling up 316 yards of total offense and taking no prisoners on their way to a 35-7 lead.
The Patriots weren’t playing against the Bills as much as they were playing with them in front of a national television audience that got to watch Brady and Moss rewrite the New England record book.
"They’re good players," said Belichick. "We see it in practice on a consistent basis. Tom doesn’t make a lot of bad plays and neither does Randy."
By the break, Brady had 287 yards passing and four touchdown tosses, all to Moss.
Perhaps inspired by the four touchdown catches Terrell Owens, the self-dubbed Original No. 81, had in the Dallas Cowboys’ 28-23 win over the Redskins earlier in the day - Moss said he was aware of Owens’s performance - New England’s No. 81 sliced through the Buffalo defense like a gridiron Ginsu, finishing the half with eight catches for 112 yards to become the first Patriots receiver since Troy Brown in 2001 to top 1,000 yards in a season.
The four touchdown passes made Brady, who looked like he was playing flag football back home in the Bay Area, the franchise’s all-time leader in 43 fewer games than previous record-holder Steve Grogan (149). It also extended his NFL record of consecutive games with three or more touchdown passes to 10.
Brady set the franchise mark on a 6-yarder to Moss with 6:33 left before the half that made it 28-7.
Adalius Thomas had 2 1/2 sacks in the first half - two more than he had in the first nine games of the season - to lead a fierce defense that racked up four sacks and made the Bills’ offense look as bad as its No. 31 ranking.
Bills quarterback J.P. Losman was making his first prime-time start at home. He didn’t look ready for the spotlight when he tossed an interception to Randall Gay on the fourth play from scrimmage. Gay returned the ball 21 yards and the Patriots ended up at the Buffalo 13 after right tackle Langston Walker hit Gay out of bounds.
That set up running back Laurence Maroney’s first touchdown of the season, a 6-yard jaunt with 12:17 left in the first quarter.
That was the least of the Bills’ problems, as like Niagara Falls, Brady and Moss proved to be an unstoppable force of nature, accounting for the next four touchdowns. The first was a 43-yarder that came one play after Moss uncharacteristically dropped a pass.
"I’m with the New England Patriots, what more could you want?" asked Moss.