ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) – Rob Gronkowski was apologetic for pile-driving his shoulder into the back of Bills rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White’s head.
Bills safety Micah Hyde was livid, calling it a dirty play.
Injuries and accusations overshadowed New England extending its winning streak to eight games and closing in on its ninth consecutive AFC East title following a 23-3 win on Sunday.
Buffalo’s playoff hopes could be jeopardized after starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor hurt his left knee and had a towel draped over his head while being carted off the sideline early in the fourth quarter. And Gronkowski’s hit on White added to the Bills’ frustrations.
White was being evaluated for a concussion after he was struck by Gronkowski while lying on the ground after Buffalo’s rookie first-round pick intercepted a Brady pass with 4:50 remaining.
“That’s just dirty football. There’s nowhere in our game for that,” Hyde said. “I don’t know if it was a shoulder, elbow, I’m not sure what it was. That was dirty.”
New England’s tight end was remorseful following the game.
“I’m not in the business of that. It was a lot of frustration,” he said. “I just want to apologize to Tre’Davious White. I don’t really believe in those type of shots.”
Bills players were surprised Gronkowski wasn’t ejected, a sentiment shared by Dean Blandino , the NFL’s former officiating director, who now is Fox TV analyst.
“In my opinion that was a play where Gronkowski should have been ejected from the game, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a substantial fine and maybe even a suspension going forward,” Blandino said following the game.
The hit sparked a shoving match between Hyde and Patriots receiver Danny Amendola. Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes was so upset he was flagged for making contact with an official. Gronkowski, Hyde and Amendola were penalized for unnecessary roughness.
“Obviously, it didn’t hurt the team there, but it definitely can in the future,” Gronkowski said. “And you definitely got to keep your cool.”
It wasn’t lost on Hyde that the two division rivals will meet at New England in three weeks.
“I’m sure you guys will talk about it,” Hyde said to reporters. “Obviously, this is something we’re going to be thinking about.”
Rex Burkhead scored on 1 and 14-yard runs on the Patriots first two drives of the second half, and Stephen Gostkowski hit three field goals in a game New England never trailed.
The Pats (10-2) won their 14th consecutive road game – the second-longest streak in NFL history – and reached double-digits in victories for the 15th consecutive season. New England also improved to 30-5 against Buffalo since Patriots coach Bill Belichick was hired in 2000.
Tom Brady went 21 of 30 for 258 yards and an interception, while improving to 27-3 over Buffalo and breaking Brett Favre’s NFL record for most wins by a quarterback against any one opponent. Favre had 26 wins over Detroit.
Buffalo (6-6) lost for the fourth time in five games and continued sliding out of the playoff picture
Taylor’s status is uncertain. He would only nod “yes” when asked by The Associated Press if he was all right while limping heavily on his left knee as he boarded a cart and was driven out of the stadium.
Taylor continued playing despite being hurt on the first series.
“He was in pain. You could see it on his face, the expressions he was making,” running back LeSean McCoy said. “It shows you a true warrior.”
Coach Sean McDermott provided no update except to say Taylor was being evaluated.
Minus Taylor, the Bills would have to back to rookie Nathan Peterman. The fifth-round draft pick proved he wasn’t ready two weeks ago, throwing five interceptions in the first half of a 54-24 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers .
On Sunday, Peterman went 6 of 15 for 50 yards. His opening drive ended on downs at the Patriots 1 when his fade pass intended for Zay Jones was batted away by cornerback Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo’s 2012 first-round draft pick. Gilmore spent his first five seasons in Buffalo before signing with the Patriots in free agency this past offseason.
The Bills introduced some trickery in a bid to spark their offense by using third-string quarterback Joe Webb in several wildcat formations.
Webb had three rushes for 27 yards, including a 22-yarder up the middle to open Buffalo’s fourth possession. Five snaps later, facing second-and-10 from New England’s’ 37, Webb slightly overthrew Travaris Cadet, who was open deep over the middle.
NO BEEF WITH BRADY
Late in the first quarter after the Patriots finished a 14-play drive that ended with a 50-yard field goal by Gostkowski, CBS cameras caught Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in a heated discussion on the sideline.
“It’s just football,” Brady said. “We’ve been around each other a lot. I love Josh.”
Patriots: Play second of three straight on road at Miami on Dec. 11
Bills: Continue three-game homestand, hosting Indianapolis on Dec. 10.