December 18, 2005
Brady leads Patriots to division title
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes
to help the New England Patriots clinch their fourth division
title in five years on Saturday with a 28-0 win over the Tampa
Bay Buccaneers in Foxboro.
New England (9-5) turned in perhaps its most impressive
performance this season to blank the Buccaneers while winning
for the fifth time in six games after a 4-4 start in the AFC
Plagued by injuries in the first half of the campaign, the
Super Bowl champions -- winners three times in the past four
years -- got a pair of short touchdown runs from Corey Dillon
to deal the Bucs a costly defeat.
Tampa Bay (9-5) had won four of its previous five games but
the loss dropped the Bucs game behind Carolina in the NFC
South, with the Panthers playing New Orleans on Sunday.
Brady was doubtful before the game with a shin injury but
proved to be in fine form by making his 85th consecutive start,
completing 20 of 31 passes for 258 yards to give him a
career-best 3,888 yards passing this season.
The Patriots scored on their first possession when Brady
hit tackle Tom Ashworth with a one-yard pass. Ashworth was an
eligible receiver on the play and it was his first reception in
his five-year career.
Tampa Bay never recovered and was held to just 138 yards
total offence, the third straight time the Pats have held an
opponent to less than 200 yards.
Dillon scored his first TD on a three-yard run late in the
second quarter and on the next series Brady hit David Givens
with a 16-yard TD strike to make it 21-0 at the half.
Brady hit Dillon with a two-yard pass early in the fourth
quarter to complete the scoring.
Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms was sacked seven times
and managed just 155 yards passing, going 21-for-34.
The Bucs running game was not much better as running back
Cadillac Williams gained just 23 yards on 14 carries.
Givens wound up with six catches for 137 yards, while
Dillon managed 48 yards on 19 carries.
In East Rutherford, Tiki Barber rushed for a team record
220 yards as the Giants beat the Kansas City Chiefs 27-17.
Eli Manning was 17 of 32 for 186 yards and threw one
touchdown as the Giants improved to 10-4. A win next week will
wrap up the NFC East for New York.
Barber also scored a pair of touchdowns for the Giants,
while Amani Toomer had 69 yards receiving for the Giants,
including a 31-yard TD catch.
Kansas City (8-6) saw its wild card hopes hurt by the loss.
Even two wins to end the season may not be enough to get the
Chiefs into the post-season now.
Larry Johnson had 167 yards rushing and two touchdowns for
In Denver, Jake Plummer threw for 259 yards and threw two
touchdowns as the Broncos beat the Buffalo Bills 28-17.
Mike Anderson had 97 yards rushing and Rod Smith had a
season-high 11 catches for 137 yards receiving for the Broncos
(11-3), who clinched their third straight playoff berth with
Denver can clinch the AFC West title with one more win or a
San Diego loss.
Kelly Holcomb was 22 of 35 for 202 yards and threw one
touchdown and Eric Moulds had 110 yards receiving for the
Bills, who slipped to 4-10.