By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) —  The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Patriots went into Buffalo with first place in the AFC East on the line, and as they’ve done numerous times over the last two decades, handed the Bills a loss on their home field.

The Patriots made it seven straight wins and improved to 9-4 with an absolute rock fight of a win, 14-10, in a cold and windy Buffalo on Monday night. The Patriots remain the top seed in the AFC following Monday’s victory.

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The Patriots held on despite the Bills making a late charge. With New England clinging to its lead late in the fourth quarter, Buffalo marched into the red zone, but Adrian Phillips knocked a potential touchdown pass out of Dawson Knox’s hands in the end zone on third-and-14. The Bills had no choice but to go for it on fourth down, and Josh Allen’s pass to Gabriel Davis was knocked away by Myles Bryant to preserve the win. Devin McCourty blitzed on the play, forcing Allen to make a quicker thrown than the quarterback would have wanted.

With the wind howling throughout the game, the Patriots focused completely on their ground attack. Mac Jones attempted just three passes, completing two of them for 19 yards, while New England running backs ran 46 times for 222 yards.

“We played the way we felt we needed to play to win. In the end, we scored enough points,” Bill Belichick said after the victory. “A lot of situational football that I thought we handled fairly well. The players get a lot of credit for being tough and resilient and a really good football team in conditions that were somewhat challenging.”

The Patriots went three-and-out on their first two possessions of the game, and Jones didn’t throw a pass until there were less than 90 seconds in the first quarter. But Damien Harris broke off a 64-yard touchdown run on New England’s third possession to give the Pats an 8-0 lead.

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Harris ran for 100 yards on 11 carries before leaving with a hamstring injury in the second half. Rhamondre Stevenson took over as the lead back and finished his night with 74 yards off 22 carries.

That long score came after a Buffalo turnover. New England took over at the Buffalo 34 when Josh Allen made a bad handoff to Matt Breida, which was recovered by Lawrence Guy.

The Bills also took advantage of a New England miscue in the first quarter. N’Keal Harry attempted to field a punt, but slipped a bit and then let the ball graze his facemask. Buffalo recovered at the New England 14, and a few plays later Allen hit Gabriel Davis for a touchdown.

Unlike the Patriots, who converted a two-point conversion after their first score, the Bills kicked an extra point, making it 8-7 New England.

The Patriots did have Nick Folk attempt a kick in the second quarter when the wind was in their favor, and the veteran connected on a 41-yarder to give New England an 11-7 lead. He added a 34-yard field goal in the fourth to make it a 14-10 game.

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The Patriots now hit their bye week, and will next play Dec. 18 when they visit the Indianapolis Colts for a Saturday night tilt.

CBSBoston.com Staff