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Mankins, Connolly exit
Left guard Logan Mankins was back in the lineup after missing two games because of calf and hip injuries, but left in the third quarter with an ankle injury after being rolled into on two plays. Right guard Dan Connolly left with a back injury after he was hit from behind during a second-quarter screen pass. Connolly finished the drive, which ended with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski, but then left and did not return.
Mankins, who left the locker room in a walking boot, and Connolly were replaced by Nick McDonald and Donald Thomas.
“I’m just doing my job,” McDonald said. “Guy gets hurt, number’s called, I’ve got to go in and play the best I can.”
Safety Steve Gregory returned for the first time since the first Buffalo game after missing four games with a hip injury. He was credited with five tackles.
Patrick Chung missed his third straight game with a shoulder injury. With Chung out, Devin McCourty earned his third consecutive start at safety, forced a fumble, then intercepted a pass in the end zone at the end of the game. Like Gregory, Chung practiced all week in a limited capacity.
The other Patriot inactives were linebacker Tracy White, defensive back Malcolm Williams, and defensive linemen Jake Bequette, Ron Brace, and Trevor Scott.
Among the Bills’ inactives was defensive end Mark Anderson, who had 10 sacks with the Patriots last season.
Kevin Faulk, who announced his retirement earlier this season after spending 13 years with the Patriots, was recognized by the team at halftime . . . In honor of Veterans Day, the cushioned base of each goalpost was wrapped in camouflage, the words “Salute to Service” were painted along the back of the end zones, and a flyover from the 439th Airlift Wing in Westover took place near the end of the national anthem, which was sung by the 215th Army Band’s Voices of Freedom. A black seat in the south end of the stadium, which will be permanently unoccupied, was also dedicated . . . It marked the 22d time the Patriots have swept the season series from the Bills. They’ve scored at least 30 points against Buffalo in six straight games . . . Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui got the start, then came out for the second offensive play in favor of Deion Branch. Hoomanawanui was targeted just once, and did not have a completion. Branch finished with four catches for 30 yards . . . Wes Welker’s 7-yard catch on the first drive extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one reception to 103, which predates his time with the Patriots. He also had two drops, but Brady had Welker’s back, saying, “I’m always going to go to him. He’s one of the best to ever play. He has the mental toughness to fight though it. He’ll be fine.” . . . Stephen Gostkowski had an excellent game, making all three of his field goal attempts (43, 48, 27 yards), and preventing the Bills from many kickoff returns. Six of Gostkowski’s eight kickoffs were touchbacks. The other two were returned just 21 and 13 yards.