Wanting revengePatriots want to beat up on Bills
By Rob Longley
Wide receiver David Givens and the Patriots will be looking to win when their 18th consecutive game and exact some revenge on the Bills after losing 31-0 at Ralph Wilson Stadium last season.
If you believe Bill Belichick's public pre-game speeches, one loss more than a year ago is far fresher in his mind than 17 consecutive wins. That's a typical prerogative of the New England Patriots coach and perhaps one not without merit.
The Patriots storm Ralph Wilson Stadium today for a meeting with the Buffalo Bills and a chance to match an NFL record with 18 consecutive wins.
But in two weeks of preparation, Belichick claims he can't shake the memory of the 31-0 drubbing the Patriots suffered on their previous visit here.
"We went in there last year and got hammered in every phase of the game," Belichick said this week. "We got outcoached, outplayed. You can't ignore it."
And Belichick suggests strongly that the Bills are not as bad as their winless record suggests.
"They are making a lot of plays on offence and are really close to making a lot more," said Belichick, who, like Bills counterpart Mike Mularkey, is coming off a bye week. "Believe me, there are a lot of teams that have more problems than they do."
Until the Bills (0-2) win a game, that will be up for debate. Losers of five in a row, the Buffalo offence continues to struggle.
While Buffalo's offence moves the ball at times, it has produced just two touchdowns in two games under Mularkey, whose mandate was to get more production from the unit.
The glass half-full view looks a little better now considering Buffalo's two losses were to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders -- each by 13-10 scores.
The Jags are 3-0 and are being lauded for their defence, while the Raiders are 2-1. Unfortunately, the Bills have a tough spot to crack into the win column.
The magic date in the minds of Patriots fans is Sept. 28, 2003 when they lost 20-17 to the Washington Redskins. Since then, they are 14-0 in the regular season (2-0 in 2004) and 3-0 in the playoffs, capped by the 32-29 Super Bowl win over the Carolina Panthers.
Don't forget as well that the Patriots are 3-1 in the so-called "Bledsoe Bowls", games in which the Bills quarterback has faced his former team.
The game Belichick wants to harp on the most, however, is the 2003 season opener when the Bills thrashed his team. In that game, it was the Bills who looked like Super Bowl contenders.
Unfortunately for Buffalo, it was also the high point of the season. The Bills won the following week in Jacksonville to go 2-0 then spiralled downward, skidding to a record of 6-10.
New England hasn't looked back and has a chance to be just the seventh team in league history to run up 18 wins in a row.
"They ain't winning 18 straight, I'll tell you that," Bills tackle Pat Williams said this past week. "I don't care what kind of game plan they come in with, we're going to win."
What will it take for the 5 1/2-point underdog Bills to snap out of it?
The already tough defence must find a way to get pressure on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the offence must wake up.
"We started off 0-2, but we have a chance to wash some of those things away," Bills receiver Eric Moulds said.
"I take it as a personal challenge to help this team get over the hump."