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AP
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Damien Harris scored on a 64-yard run in blustery conditions in which Mac Jones attempted just three passes, and the New England Patriots shored up their familiar place atop the AFC with a 14-10 win over the Buffalo Bills on Monday night.

Defensive back Miles Bryant sealed the victory by batting down Josh Allen’s pass at the goal line with Buffalo facing fourth-and-14 at New England’s 18 with 1:55 remaining.

The Patriots leaned heavily on their ground game out-gaining the Bills 229 to 99 in yards rushing, with the cold, windy snowy night negating Allen’s strong-armed passing attack.

New England (9-4) won its seventh consecutive game, improved to 6-0 on the road this season and now has a two-win edge over the Bills (7-5) in the AFC East standings.

Harris finished with a season-best 111 yards rushing and opened the scoring on New England’s ninth play from scrimmage. Facing third-and-5, Harris burst though a gaping hole up the middle and was untouched on his way to the end zone.

With the Patriots facing winds gusting up to 40 mph, coach Bill Belichick succeeded on a 2-point conversion, with Brandon Bolden scoring just inside the left pylon.

The Patriots never trailed with Nick Folk hitting two field goals — both with the wind at his back — from 34 and 41 yards.

The Bills continued their inconsistencies by losing four of their past seven, and have not won consecutive games since capping a 4-0 run spanning Sept. 19 to Oct. 10.

Though the two teams meet once more in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Dec. 26, Buffalo’s path to repeat as division champions, never mind earn a third straight postseason berth, is suddenly muddied. The AFC's wild-card race now features four teams with seven wins. The Bills also dropped to 5-5 against AFC opponents and 3-1 against division opponents.

The Bills defense continues to be susceptible against the run. The 222 yards rushing allowed on Monday came two weeks after Jonathan Taylor scored five times and gained 185 yards rushing in the Indianapolis Colts 41-15 win at Buffalo.

Jones was relegated to handoff duties in attempting one pass — a 12-yard completion in which tight end Jonnu Smith tipped the ball to himself— in the first half. According to Elias Sports, the Patriots had the fewest yards passing and became the first team to attempt just one one pass in the first half since at least 1978.

He finished 2 of 3 for 19 yards in becoming the NFL’s third quarterback to win nine games in his rookie season, joining Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, and Dallas’ Dak Prescott in 2016. He also joined Roethlisberger and Prescott in becoming the NFL’s third rookie QB to win his first six road starts.

Each team capitalized on the other’s mistakes in trading touchdowns in the opening quarter.

Harris’ TD came three plays after New England’s Lawrence Guy recovered Matt Breida’s fumble at the Patriots 31.

Buffalo responded on its next possession which was extended after N’Keal Harry slipped had Matt Haack’s punt glance off his helmet, with Siran Neal recovering the ball at New England’s 14. Allen hit Gabriel Davis on a slant route on the next play to cut the lead to 8-7.

The Bills blew several scoring chances by managing a touchdown and field goal on four trips inside the Patriots 20. That included Tyler Bass missing a 34-yard attempt wide right into the wind midway through the fourth quarter.

The elements were at times overwhelming, including a wind-chill that dropped the temperature into the mid-20s.

One of New England’s Jake Bailey’s punts went sideways into the wind for 15 yards. Members of ESPN’s pre-game broadcast crew were blown off their chairs along the sideline, and the orange flags was ripped off the top of the left upright in the east end of the stadium.

At least the snow stopped falling before game time, after the field was covered by a white dusting two hours before kickoff.

ON THE RETURN

Hyde took over Buffalo’s kickoff- and punt-returning duties with both Isaiah McKenzie and rookie Marquez Stevenson inactive. Stevenson recovered his own fumble on a punt return against the Saints in his first game taking over the job for McKenzie, who was benched after his muffed punt led to the Colts scoring a touchdown two weeks ago.

INACTIVES

Patriots: Safety Kyle Dugger, New England’s leading tackler, did not play after being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list last wek, while linebacker Jamie Collins returned after missing three games with an ankle injury.

Bills: Starting guard Jon Feliciano missed his fifth game with a calf injury despite returning to practice last week.

Buffalo welcomed back defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who missed four games, and right tackle Spencer Brown, who missed two, after both were cleared from the COVID-19 list.

UP NEXT

Patriots: Enter bye week off, and return to play at Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 18.

Bills: Travel to play Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, with Tom Brady, 32-3 against Buffalo, holding the NFL record for most career wins by a quarterback against one opponent.

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AP
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NEW YORK (AP) — Max Scherzer has shattered baseball's record for highest average salary, agreeing Monday to a $130 million, three-year contract with the New York Mets, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement is subject to a successful physical.

The $43.33 million average salary is 20% higher than the previous mark, the $36 million Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole is averaging in his $324 million, nine-year contract with New York.

Scherzer would have the right to opt out after the 2023 season to become a free agent once again. Scherzer also receives a full no-trade provision, requiring his approval for any deals. The agreement also includes award bonuses.

Scherzer lives in West Palm Beach, Florida, about an hour's drive from the Mets spring training complex in Port St. Lucie. He was planning to take a physical Monday that is needed for the deal to be completed.

A three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight-time All-Star, the 37-year-old right-hander was 15-4 with a 2.46 ERA last season for the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers, who acquired him on July 30. He struck out 236 and walked 36 in 179 1/3 innings, averaging 94.4 mph with his fastball in the final season of a $210 million, seven-year contract that included $105 million in deferred money payable from 2022-28.

He is 190-97 with a 3.16 ERA in 14 major league seasons for Arizona (2008-09), Detroit (2010-14), Washington and the Dodgers. He has distinctive eyes, blue on the right, brown on the left, a condition known as Heterochromia Iridis.

A workhorse who helped the Nationals win the 2019 World Series title, Scherzer won the AL Cy Young in 2013 and consecutive NL Cy Youngs in 2016 and 2017. He finished third in this year's voting behind Milwaukee's Corbin Burnes and Philadelphia's Zack Wheeler.

He has pitched a pair of no-hitters, in 2015 against Pittsburgh and at the Mets.

Scherzer gets $43,333,333 annually. The Mets deal will raise his career earnings to more than $370 million.

He joins a rotation headed by two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, who didn’t pitch after July 7 because of right forearm tightness. Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker also return under club control.

Noah Syndergaard, returning from Tommy John surgery, left for a $21 million, one-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels. The Mets lost out on left-hander Steven Matz, whose $44 million, four-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals was to be finalized Monday.

New York also has pending deals with center fielder Starling Marte ($78 million for four years), outfielder/first baseman Mark Canha and infielder Eduardo Escobar, all contingent on successful physicals.

The Mets had baseball's third-highest payroll on Aug. 31 at $196 million, trailing the Dodgers ($261 million) and Yankees ($204 million), They could emerge as the top spender following their first full offseason under owner Steven Cohen, who bought the team in November 2020 from the Wilpon and Katz families in a deal that valued the Mets at a baseball-record $2.42 billion.

As baseball heads to a likely lockout when the collective bargaining agreement expires Wednesday night, Scherzer is a member of the union's eight-player executive subcommittee.

His agreement, like Cole's, was negotiated by agent Scott Boras.

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