No fact or storyline has been mentioned more leading up to Thursday night’s matchup between the Patriots and Bills at Gillette Stadium than the fact that Buffalo was not forced to punt in either of the last two meetings between the AFC East rivals.
Last December in Foxborough Josh Allen led a 33-21 victory by throwing for 314 yards and three touchdowns. A couple weeks later on Super Wild Card Weekend the beatdown in Buffalo was even worse when Allen threw for five scores as the Bills notched touchdowns on all seven meaningful possessions they had.
While Bill Belichick is a coach who generally preaches for his team to ignore the noise and that each game is its own individual battle with no relation to past weeks, months or even years, Patriots captain Matthew Slater admitted on his weekly interview on “Mut at Night” on WEEI that the most recent battles with the Bills cannot be ignored nor forgotten.
“Well look, every game is its own game. The players are different. The situation is different. Everything about games in this league is different from week to week,” Slater began before getting to the honest root of the matter. “But I will say that for us we’re very aware of how the last couple of games against these guys have gone. I mean they’ve flat out had the upper hand against us. There is no way around that. By and large, their team is the same. Their core guys, 90 percent of them are the same.”
With the Bills bringing the same Allen-led, Sean McDermott-coached squad back to Gillette this week, Slater believes the onus is on the Patriots to find a more productive way to compete with the Buffalo team that’s won the division each of the last two years and has clear Super Bowl aspirations this winter.
“We realize the challenge that lies out in front of us and we realize that we better, surely better adjust the way that we’ve been playing and competing against these guys if we hope for a better outcome,” Slater continued. “Because the reality is they are too good for us not to be at our best. We have to be in tune with situations, with players, with all of that just to give ourselves a chance. This is an organization and team that we have a tremendous amount of respect for. They play the game the right way. They coach the game the right way. We’re aware of how it’s been going and hopefully we can change that trend.”