Oct 26, 2016 7:23 PM
Patriots division rivalry with Bills intensifies ahead of Week 8 rematch
FOXBORO, Mass. - The New England Patriots have a rematch ahead of them against the Buffalo Bills, a divisional rival who shutout the Pats more than three weeks ago.
“That game, good or bad, doesn’t mean anything because if we’d have come out there and won that game, we wouldn’t be hanging onto it," defensive end Chris Long said. "It’s time to move on and learn from that game, but certainly this week is about this week.”
Though players Wednesday chose not to dwell on it, team's first game against the Bills is a hard one to forget.
That game was during Week 4, the last game of Tom Brady's suspension. Rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett stepped into the starting role after backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo also found himself out of commission due to an early season injury. The Pats struggled to possess the ball or get into scoring position, and being bogged down by penalties didn't help.
Buffalo managed the 16-0 win, shutting out the Patriots at home for the first time since 1993.
“Every game’s its own entity," head coach Bill Belichick said during a press conference Wednesday. "I don’t care about games that have happened in the past. We’ve won them, we’ve lost them. I don’t think it matters.”
Players said they always prepare to win but are well aware of what kind of competition they'll face during their second-straight road game.
“It’s a hostile environment," said wide receiver Danny Amendola. "Obviously they don’t like us, so we’re gonna go in there with that mentality and be ready for whatever they throw at us.”
Another Pats' wide receiver, Chris Hogan, will be returning to the place he played the first four seasons of his career.
“It’ll be the first time I’m on the other side of the sideline there but I’m not really focused on that," Hogan said. "They’re playing well and I believe that this team is playing well right now, and it’ll be a physical battle for four quarters.”
Still, there's quite a bit of tension between the two AFC East teams, beginning long before this season. Tom Brady said what happens beyond the few hours it takes to play a football game isn't what's important.
“I think it’s more so when the game kicks off as opposed to what happens before the game or during the week or, you know, you get into a bunch of trash talk," he said. "You know us. We’ve never got into that stuff because in the end, it’s just a big waste of energy.”
Brady has stepped smoothly back into his leadership role on the team and says he's feeling good as he enters his fourth game back.
He's also been more bold on offense, seeking opportunities himself when he runs out of options. In the three games he's played this season, he's earned four rushing first downs for a total of 44.4 yards gained.
That's a skill quarterbacks usually use as a last resort, but for Brady so far, it's worked.
"It’s nice to be able to do that because I think it’s a little discouraging for a defense when they think they’ve got you covered," he said. “I mean, I don’t think they’re preparing for me scrambling for first downs. I know they’re not working on that.”
In the same vein, Brady has come under some criticism recently for being "too slow" to rush like that. During his press conference Wednesday, he said his biggest fan disagrees.
“Don’t tell my mom that either because she would totally disagree with that," Brady said smiling. "She thinks I’m very fast. She says, ‘I think you’re the fastest person on the field.’ And I say, ‘Mom, you’re crazy. There’s no way.' But that’s moms.”
Fast or not, Brady said he'll continue doing what he can to get the ball up the field and take care of it better than back in early October.
“We’ll go in there, we’ll be focused, we’ll be ready to go, and we’ll try and go out there and play a lot better than we played last time we played them," he added.
Kickoff is Sunday at 1 p.m.