The Bills didn't throw in the towel like many expected them to but Bill Belichick and the Patriots took care of business Sunday in Foxboro. Credit: Getty Images
How the Patriots' No. 2-seed clinching win over the Bills played out in real time Sunday on CBS:
4:20 p.m. EDT: There is some symmetry here since the Patriots started this season in Buffalo and now they end the regular season at Gillette, in the pouring rain, against the Bills. Wonder when the last time was that Buffalo actually had something to play for in their finale? With a win, the Patriots get the No. 2 seed and a bye. They also have an outside chance at the No. 1 seed if the Broncos somehow lose in Oakland (not likely).
4:25-Ho hum, Tom Brady is 21-2 in his career vs. Buffalo, including 11-0 at home.
4:26-9-yard run by LeGarrette Blount to start.
4:30-Stephon Gilmore holds Julian Edelman on 3rd down to keep a Patriots drive alive. Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus is suspended the first half. What is this college?
4:32-In honor of Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen fumbles but Edelman is there to fall on it-for a 1st down no less, just like they drew it up.
4:34-Patriots settle for a 43-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski after a 12-play drive stalled. 3-0 New England.
4:37-24-yard run by C.J. Spiller who broke a tackle.
4:39-22-yard catch by Marquise Goodwin on the sideline, look at Thad Lewis-the pride of Duke football.
4:42-Lewis fumbled the ball and loses 13 yards but Dan Carpenter hits a 51-yard field goal into the wind to tie it at three.
4:46-Pass interference on Ron Brooks who pushed Edelman, Ed Hoculhi apparently thought it was catchable (didn’t look like it).
4:48-Ugh, deep pass intended for Aaron Dobson is incomplete but worse than that, he hobbled off with what looked like a hamstring issue.
4:49-Oh hello Stevan Ridley, 29-yard run-his longest gain of the season.
4:52-1000 receiving yards for Edelman (only the 10th Patriot to do that), never thought I’d see the day that happened. He’s also one catch away from 100 this season. Safety Jairus Byrd is shaken up for Buffalo.
4:54-35-yard field goal by Gostkowski gives New England a 6-3 lead. That’s Gostkowski’s 36th field goal of the season which ties his franchise record from 2008.
4:58-27-yard catch by Robert Woods, who was wide open on 3rd down. Can Kyle Arrington cover anybody?
5:03-9-yard run for Blount and that’s how the first quarter ends: with Patriots leading Bills 6-3. Bad news from Oakland: Denver is up 14-0 after one.
5:04-There it is, 12-yard catch for Edelman gives him 100.
5:06-14-yard run by Blount followed by a 9-yard gain. At this point, it doesn’t seem like Ridley will get more carries than him in the playoffs but I’ve been wrong before.
5:07-On cue, 9-yard run by Ridley. Pats already have 121 rushing yards today (2 more than their season average).
5:08-36-yard TD run by Blount (his sixth of the season), that was too easy. He’s over 100 yards today but oh no: Logan Mankins is getting helped off the field. 13-3 Patriots but they really can’t afford a serious injury to their Pro Bowl offensive lineman.
5:12-Chandler Jones tackles Spiller for a loss of two yards.
5:13-Gross, 13-yard catch for Fred Jackson on a 3rd down screen pass.
5:14-He follows that with a 12-yard run. He’s good, it’s a shame he’s never been on a decent team.
5:15-4th-and-1 at midfield. Buffalo has nothing to lose so they go for it but Lewis gets stopped for a loss of one by Rob Ninkovich. Only the Bills call for a quarterback sneak there with Jackson and Spiller both available.
5:21-A crappy snap by Ryan Wendell forces Brady to fall on it during 3rd down. Great punt by Ryan Allen downed at Buffalo’s 7.
5:25-16-yard run by Jackson, haha it’s a good thing he got some rest during that fourth down play.
5:26-Arrington is shaken up after Spiller fell on his knee. Justin Green (rookie from Illinois), promoted from the practice squad yesterday, is in for Arrington.
5:30-Wow, Mankins is back. 22-yard screen pass to Vereen.
5:31-Another 9-yard run by Blount, who is averaging nine yards a carry tonight.
5:33-Stefan Charles’ 1st NFL sack is against Tom Brady, a 7-yard loss. Not too shabby for the CFL alum.
5:34-14-yard gain by Edelman on a screen pass. Charles is shaken up. Ian Eagle notes that he’s from Regina (in Canada). Not sure how it’s pronounced but I laughed since it rhymed with a certain part of the female anatomy.
5:38-Blount’s 122 rushing yards in the 1st half are the most for the Patriots since Sammy Morris in October 2008.
5:39-15-yard catch by Vereen, Bills don’t have a prayer to stop that. PS Byrd is done for the day.
5:40-Blount fumbles but Matthew Mulligan sort of justifies his place on an NFL roster by recovering it.
5:44-Patriots take a 16-3 lead into halftime on Gostkowski’s 29-yard field goal (setting the new franchise record). New England has been in way too many nailbiters this season but with the offseason staring them in the face, on the road in a freezing rain, any chance the Bills do anything positive in the second half? I say no.
5:58-27-yard catch by Scott Chandler. You know Brady is getting old when Lewis talked about watching him when he was growing up.
6:01-Patriots fumble for the fourth time but they’ve recovered them all. Edelman muffed a punt at his own 10.
6:04-Eagle brings up a good point that Belichick deserves Coach of the Year votes but Fouts notes how he gets overlooked for being so consistent.
6:05-9-yard catch by Danny Amendola, his first of the game.
6:07-Unsportsmanlike conduct on Alan Branch followed by another on Jerry Hughes. Don't think I’ve ever seen that before, obviously Hochuli is involved.
6:08-Holding on Marcus Cannon followed by a Patriots timeout. This has really slowed down to a halt. At least Josh McDaniels is wearing a towel on his head like Lawrence of Arabia, that makes me smile.
6:11-Holding on Wendell and Dareus limps off with a groin injury. Can we have running time?
6:13-Not that you need more evidence that the Pro Bowl is worthless but the Patriots had four selections and the Bills had three. 3rd-and-32 so the Pats go with the old surprise punt by Brady (which went 32 yards). Belichick loves pulling out that crap in Week 17 (think Flutie’s drop kick years back).
6:15-If you sit through this entire game at Gillette, you are tougher than me and you deserve playoff tickets or something more than a coupon to Patriot Place.
6:17-Chris Jones sacks Lewis for a 6-yard loss on 3rd down. Hope Buffalo is warming up their bus and gassing up their plane.
6:22-Allen dropped another punt on the goal-line but practice squad callup Kanorris Davis dove on the ball causing it to squirt into the end zone. Eagle helpfully notes that “the ball is slippery.” That’s what they make announcing awards for, gems like that.
6:24-Good stuff from Gillette, playing CCR’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” Somewhere the Red Sox wonder how they can copy that and make money off it in 2014.
6:25-12-yard run by Spiller who is stopped for no gain on the next play by Joe Vellano.
6:26-Lewis drops in a 41-yard pass to the immortal T.J. Graham down the sideline.
6:28-A shaky illegal hands to the face penalty on Chandler Jones wipes out a sack by Sealver Siliga.
6:30-12-yard touchdown catch by Graham, Lewis rolled out and Graham was completely uncovered. Bills cut it to 16-10, good for them.
6:32-Only Buffalo could allow an 83-yard kickoff return by Blount, you can’t make this stuff up.
6:37-Patriots have 4th-and-1 to start the fourth quarter. Have to believe they take the points to go back up two scores.
6:38-BuffaLOL. Dareus jumps offside to hand New England a gift first down.
6:39-Next play, 5-yard TD catch by Vereen. Haha the Bills are something else, nobody thought to cover Edelman on the two-point conversion so he makes the easy catch. Patriots lead 24-10.
6:45-Not to sound like a worried mother but can someone give Matt Patricia a jacket? Apparently, he doesn’t know that a sweatshirt isn’t very effective in the rain.
6:46-37-yard catch by Jackson on 3rd down, like I said before get this guy on a good team.
6:47-Spiller runs it to the 1 but MLB Hall of Famer Lee Smith’s false start moves them back five yards. It doesn’t matter, Jackson has a 5-yard TD run on the next play. Buffalo is hanging around, down 24-17 with 10:20 left in the fourth quarter.
6:51-You can’t stop Blount, you can only hope to contain Devin Hester Jr. 62-yard kickoff return, why did Buffalo kick it to him again?
6:52-15-yard run by Ridley.
6:54-3rd-and-2, the Bills have no hope to stop the run so McDaniels calls a pass which Brady throws incomplete to Edelman (miscommunication).
6:56-35-yard field goal by Gostkowski gives New England a 27-17 lead. One turnover by the Bills and this is over. With that kick, Gostkowski set a new franchise record for points (157) in a season.
6:59-9-yard catch by Chandler and 13-yard run by Spiller but the clock is running on Buffalo. 105 yards rushing on the day for Spiller after a 7-yard run.
7:00-Spiller gets stuffed for no gain on 3rd-and-2 then on 4th down, Graham drops a relatively easy catch. Looks like another bleak winter in Buffalo, then again aren’t they all?
7:05-Eagle: “Hochuli is soaked.” Dan Fouts: “Ed’s guns are wet.”
7:07-Patriots refuse to end this miserable game, Vereen bobbles a 3rd down catch and Manny Lawson picks it off at midfield.
7:08-16-yard catch by Spiller, Brandon Spikes limps off after slipping near Buffalo’s sideline. Dr. Fouts says “he’s just embarrassed.” Ok then.
7:09-19-yard catch by Chandler.
7:11-A draw to Jackson doesn’t work, Aqib Talib takes him down for a loss of 1.
7:12- Ninkovich sacks Lewis for a loss of 4. Carpenter hits a 37-yard field goal to cut it to 27-20 with 3:26 left in regulation.
7:14-Nate Ebner recovers the onside kick.
7:15-10-yard run by Blount and Fouts drops a Big Bang Theory reference, as terrible as you’d imagine.
7:16-Goodnight Bills, happy offseason. 35-yard TD run by Blount gives him 189 yards in the game (334 total yards)-a new career-high. Week 17 everybody! Patriots lead 34-20 with 2:31 left and Blount is on the bench smiling with his arm around Brady. Who could have predicted that before the season?
7:24-Bills turn it over on downs and that’ll do it. Patriots will get the No. 2 seed.
Final: Patriots 34, Bills 20. Was there ever any doubt? New England earns a bye for the fourth straight season while Denver got the top seed. It’s all shaping up for a Broncos-Patriots AFC Championship game in three weeks, but of course, there is plenty to transpire before then. See you in two weeks!
Follow Metro Boston sports writer Richard Slate on Twitter:@RichSlate