– FOXBOROUGH Nobody on the New England Patriots defense needs any reminders about how their previous game against the Buffalo Bills ended. But just in case you forgot, the Bills didn’t punt once. In fact, they crushed the Patriots 47-17 in the playoffs, scoring a touchdown on each drive.

Adrian Phillips, a Patriots safety, was direct in his recollection of the game on Tuesday. When we stepped outside, the temperature was, what, minus one [degrees Fahrenheit]? We essentially had our face kicked in there,” Phillips said.

The Patriots are fortunate—or perhaps not—to play the Bills twice a year because they are a division opponent. Since that chilly night in January in Buffalo, when the two teams last shared a field, the AFC East has run through the Bills. On Thursday, it will be the first time since then.

The setback is undoubtedly on many Patriots defense players’ and coaches’ minds, and a few of them have even admitted that they have to take it personally and will be applying it to Thursday’s game against the Bills.

Devin McCourty, a Patriots safety, believes that the defense needs to play better and that “it’s about executing” and playing hard while doing so, regardless of other factors like the Bills’ star-studded offense.

We need to be more competitive, McCourty added. “I just think that at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to just how well you can compete, how well you can make a play when you draw up anything, plays or any of that stuff. I believe that is the main theme. It’s no secret that the past two times we faced them, we didn’t play well defensively. If we want to have a chance to win, that has to change. We must play much better defense.

Patriots defensive players

We are aware that their offense is among the best in the NFL. It is not a secret. Everyone is aware of that. They possess perhaps the NFL’s top quarterback. We’ll need to show there and carry that out. These are the contests in which you must perform well if you want to be regarded as a good defense.

Matthew Judon, a Patriots outside linebacker, is no stranger to opposing quarterbacks so far this season. With 13, he has the most sacks in the league. Additionally, he has caused a fumble, and if the Bills decided not to punt once more, it would mean more turnovers for the Patriots defense.

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If they don’t have to punt and we only get picks or forced fumbles, I’ll be delighted. As long as we’re getting stops and turnovers, I don’t really care if we don’t see them punting, Judon said. “Since it’s a pride issue, we should just flip it. We need to force five or six turnovers if they don’t punt. That offense is effective. That team is excellent. We’re hoping to get to go out there first, get a three-and-out, and watch them punt.

Phillips is aware that this season, things between the two teams might not be precisely the same. The fact that both clubs are competing for postseason positions in December for the second consecutive year is one feature that unites them, therefore this year’s matchups cannot be determined by those from the previous year.

You certainly consider [the loss], but you don’t dwell on it, Phillips added. You examine what they did, how they managed the game, and the plays they were able to execute. You consider how they essentially went two games without punting the ball. It’s a major event. You can’t let that devour you, though, at the same time.

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It s a whole different team, a whole different mindset,” Phillips added. “It s our first time playing these guys. We’ve got another one coming up soon. You go out there with a clear head and say, Hey, everybody does their jobs to the best of their abilities and the outcome will be the outcome.
Thursday’s matchup could end up being a battle between heavyweights. The Bills’ offense ranks second in total yardage while the Patriots’ defense ranks fourth in total yardage. Both sides also grade out well in efficiency metrics, with the Bills holding the sixth-best offense per weighted DVOA while the Patriots hold the sixth-best defense per weighted DVOA.
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