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Patriots pound out 14-10 win at Buffalo, strengthen grip on AFC East

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Patriots pound out 14-10 win at Buffalo, strengthen grip on AFC East

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The easiest way to explain the Patriots has been to point to the past.

To compare this doubted, slow-starting bunch to the 2001 team, a Super Bowl champion backboned by strong defense and a powerful enough run game to support a young quarterback. On Monday, these Pats turned the clock back even further.

Amid blustery conditions, the Patriots set a franchise record with only three pass attempts and beat the Bills 14-10 behind a historic ground-and-pound approach. The Pats rushed for a season-high 222 yards and ran on 32 consecutive offensive snaps spanning the second and fourth quarters. The Patriots became the first team to win while attempting three or fewer passes since 1974.

Defensively, they repelled three straight Buffalo drives that reached the red zone to close out their win. Defending fourth-and-14 at his own 18, Pats defensive back Myles Bryant broke up Josh Allen’s final pass to officially send the Bills packing moments inside the 2-minute warning. Allen finished 15-of-30 for 145 yards and a touchdown.

Buffalo’s two prior drives ended in field goal attempts, a 33-yarder blown wide right and a 35-yarder made late in the third quarter. Swirling gusts were constant inside Highmark Stadium, even reaching 50 mph during play. But nothing could knock the determined Patriots off course.

At 9-4 and winners of a league-high seven straight, the Pats extended their division lead to a game and a half and ensured they will lead the AFC when they return after their upcoming bye week.

Rookie quarterback Mac Jones went 2-of-3 for 19 yards passing and took four quarterback sneaks. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Patriots’ one first-half pass attempt marked the fewest by an NFL team since 1978.

The Patriots and Bills both sputtered at the start, the wind affecting a third-down toss to Damien Harris that slipped through his hands and a third-down pass to Buffalo tight end Dawson Knox whose own butterfingers led to another punt.

The Pats failed to bully Buffalo (7-5) on their second series and again rain into a brick wall over three straight carries. Jake Bailey then sailed a 15-yard punt he lost immediately to the wind. Lucky for the Patriots, Bills running back Devin Singletary fumbled a hand-off four plays later, and defensive tackle Lawrence Guy fell on it, killing a drive that started in their territory.

Finally, the bullies broke through.

Taking a third-down toss left, Damien Harris (110 rushing yards) followed picture perfect blocking from his offensive line and cut upfield against a sea of Bills defenders before speeding all alone to a 64-yard touchdown. His score was the Patriots’ longest rushing touchdown in a regular-season game since Curtis Martin in 1997. Facing a relentless wind, the Pats bypassed an point-after try and instead scored a 2-point conversion sending Brandon Bolden on another toss left.

Ahead 8-0, the Pats defense flexed again late in the first quarter and choked out another drive. N’Keal Harry then curiously joined All-Pro Gunner Olszewski back deep for the first punt return of his NFL career. Sure enough, the ball soared toward Harry, took one bounce and glanced off his facemask for a fumble. An alert Bills coverage unit pounced on it at the Patriots’ 14-yard line.

On the very next snap, Allen rifled a touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis. While the Pats answered immediately with a 54-yard field goal drive, Buffalo’s run defense stonewalled them through halftime.

Breaking out of the locker room, the Bills booted their third straight punt and again yielded little to the Patriots’ rushing attack. Buoyed by another mistake — Bryant’s unnecessary roughness hit on Allen as he scampered out of bounds — Buffalo tacked on a field goal. And again, the Patriots answered with a field goal drive, this time a 33-yarder from Nick Folk.

In the fourth quarter, the Bills crawled into Patriots territory with a mix of short completions, runs and an Allen scramble. Then another Pats penalty, a horse collar tackle courtesy of Dont’a Hightower, vaulted them inside the 10-yard line. Dusting themselves off, the Patriots stood their ground against a first-down run, then sacked Allen on second-and-goal and forced a hopeless incompletion on third down.

Tyler Bass’ ensuing kick went wide right. After another Patriots punt, the Bills marched back, only to be beaten back again by the wind and the NFL’s best defense.

Here were the best and worst Patriot performances Monday:

Best

Offensive line The Pats piled up 222 rushing yards without any help from their passing game. That’s a huge credit to the big men up front.

Red-zone defense Buffalo finished 1-of-4 inside the red zone.

DT Davon Godchaux He finished with a game-high 10 tackles and helped limit the Bills to four yards per carry.

Worst

WR N’Keal Harry His fumble led to the Bills’ only points through three quarters.

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Caring for a husband who treated you poorly

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Top 10 paid Massachusetts public employees and overtime high earners

Dear Abby: A year and a half ago, I separated from my husband because I was being neglected, not respected and mistreated emotionally. During the separation, he had to have surgery and needed to be taken care of while he healed. I went back because, as his wife, I felt obligated to do the right thing.

I have tried to move forward and restore my marriage, but I still don’t feel loved or appreciated. In the back of my mind, I can’t forget the way he treated me in the past. I feel stuck because he isn’t working and doesn’t plan on working again. He says he’s not able to, but I believe he could do something that’s not strenuous. How do I find my happiness and still do the right thing?

— Conflicted in the South

Dear Conflicted: Have you told your husband how you feel — about everything? If you have and nothing has changed, make an appointment with a lawyer to find out what your obligations may be to a husband who is no longer self-supporting.

If he has no income, you may have to provide for him financially from now on. For some women, this might mean remaining unhappily married but living their own lives to the extent they can, and not relying on their spouse for emotional or any other support.

Dear Abby: I have to meet my fiance’s adult children. They are not happy he’s in a relationship since their mom’s death two years ago. I’m very nervous about it, and so is he. What do we do?

— Taking the Next Step

Dear Taking: You meet them, and do your best to relax and be friendly and open with them. Understand they are still grieving the loss of their beloved mother, and be prepared to do a lot of listening. Refrain from physical displays of affection with your fiance until they get to know you.

If it becomes necessary, their father should be prepared to make clear to them that you two are going to be married and, while they do not have to “love” you, he expects them to treat you with courtesy, respect and kindness.

Dear Abby: Is it customary to give a house cleaner or cleaning service lunch or offer them food if they are doing an extensive cleaning job? I ask because my mother-in-law hired a cleaning crew. She watches my infant daughter during the day. She doesn’t cook or clean, although I pay her. Well, she gave the crew lunch. Mind you, she didn’t ask me if it was OK or if I wanted the leftovers for my own lunch. I wouldn’t mind, but I’m wondering if this is typical.

— Cleaning Crew Lunch

Dear Cleaning Crew: Let me put it this way: It is intelligent and hospitable to offer lunch if you want a happy, energetic cleaning crew who look forward to coming back. The practice is NOT uncommon.

P.S. If there are leftovers you would like to have for lunch, take them with you before the housekeepers arrive.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com.

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Ask the Vet: How much testing should I pursue with my older cat?

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Ask the Vet: How much testing should I pursue with my older cat?

After a long career in nursing and owning cats for most of my life, I wanted to reach out and ask for your opinion regarding my 17-year-old cat.

I have never been one to go overboard and do excess testing on my pets or go to extreme measures in their old age. Perhaps it is because of my experiences on the human side and some of the suffering that I have seen or learning to accept old age realities but either way, I have been hesitant to pursue extraordinary measures.

My cat just had her annual checkup and I pointed out that other than losing a little weight, she was doing well. My vet pointed out that she had a few teeth with heavy tartar and that her heart murmur had advanced a little bit. The vet also noticed a slight weight loss and then suggested bloodwork.

At first, I hesitated but on their suggestion I proceeded. I am glad that I did. It turns out that my cat has elevated liver function tests and is hyperthyroid. Can any of the clinical findings be related?

The next recommendations are for medical treatment but possible ultrasounds and cardiology workups. What should I do? Given her age, will there be any benefit or gain from doing any of this without putting her through a lot?

I am glad to know that your veterinarian was able to persuade you to do the bloodwork for your cat.

Truthfully, some things that are found can be successfully addressed with simple medical intervention whereas other issues might not be manageable or able to be corrected.

The weight loss and heart murmur increasing in severity are most likely both due to the hyperthyroidism. I would definitely try and manage that with medication and methimazole can be inexpensively and easily given on a daily basis to bring that thyroid value down into the normal range. Retesting after a short time is important to make sure that the value is normal and be adjusted if needed.

As for the liver ultrasounds and cardiac evaluation, there may well be value to pursuing diagnostics but less likelihood of doing something that can restore normalcy.

Neither pursuit would be putting her through a lot and might actually provide some benefits and a healthier and longer life.

One needs to also weigh out the costs and ease of managing the cat. After all, had your veterinarian not done this initial bloodwork, you might not even know of what was found and can be addressed. Some cats are very compliant with workups and treatments whereas others are difficult.

With your medical background and knowing your cat better than anyone else, I am sure you will make the right choices for your cat.

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Lifetime’s ‘Vanished: Searching for My Sister’ a twin challenge for Tatyana Ali

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Lifetime’s ‘Vanished: Searching for My Sister’ a twin challenge for Tatyana Ali

Playing twin sisters in the Lifetime telepic “Vanished: Searching for My Sister” turned out to be quite the acting exercise for Tatyana Ali.

In the thriller, which is based on a true story and premieres Saturday, Ali (“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “The Reason”) stars as Jada and Kayla, identical twins who could not be more opposite. While Jada is a responsible, gainfully employed single mom, Kayla is the wild child, going in for drugs, clubbing and associating with dubious characters.

So when Kayla disappears, Jada pushes her way into the investigation to the consternation of two police detectives (Jasmine Guy, “The Vampire Diaries,” and Carolyn Hennesy, “Click”). At one point, Jada even poses as her sister to infiltrate her world, hoping to find someone who knows something.

So the challenge for Ali was not only to play two characters, but also one character playing the other, sometimes in the same day, during the three-week spring shoot in Atlanta.

“It is a crazy challenge,” Ali said with a laugh. “It gets confusing. I think it even got confusing for the crew … I’m Jada now but I’m Jada as Kayla; I’m Jada now but I’m really Jada. I’m just Kayla now. Jada’s not involved. Yeah, it is challenging.

“I really, really relied heavily on the costumers, the hair and makeup team that I was able to work with,” she added. “They were wonderful and I really relied on them to kind of help make it through kind of the maze of all of that. … So the makeup and hair trailer, that was really like my safe haven, like the place where I could kind of switch from one woman to the next.”

Justin Bruening and Tatyana Ali star in “Vanished: Searching for My Sister” Saturday on Lifetime.

Ali was so unrecognizable as she switched characters that she even fooled the actor who played Kayla’s estranged husband Warren, Justin Bruening (“Grey’s Anatomy”).

“I didn’t get to meet Kayla until my last day of filming,” Bruening recalled. “And I didn’t even realize that we were moving on to the next scene where I would see Kayla. … So at one point, I come back and we’re like in our little holding area and I sit down. And we’ve got the PPE stuff on — the protection gear, masks and stuff — so that helped with the situation.

“But I sat there and there was a person sitting across from me on a couch,” he said with a laugh, “and I didn’t realize for the first 20 minutes that it was Tatyana, who I had been working with all day. … And I finally went, ‘Is that you? Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry. I haven’t been talking to you.’ ”

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