Surging Bills looking to flip the script against New England

NFL
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP)Tre’Davious White didn’t know much about the one-sided rivalry between the Bills and New England Patriots prior to his arrival in Buffalo. He quickly caught up to speed. “Since I first got here, before I even played my first game, I was sitting at Buffalo Wild Wings and I was by myself and I was eating and the Patriots were on,” White said. “It was a Thursday night, and just a random guy came up to me, ‘You’ve got to beat these guys.’” The Bills have come a long way since White’s arrival in 2017. They have clinched their second playoff berth in three years. They have won 10 games for the first time since 1999. Yet they still have to topple the Patriots, who have held a stranglehold over the AFC East as well as the Bills over the past two decades. The surging Bills (10-4) will get that opportunity to flip the script on Saturday when they travel to take on the Patriots (11-3) in a battle between the division rivals. “That’s our next challenge,” Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes said. “It’s not like we’ve proven much. We’ve just been knocking down the challenges that have been in front of us. In order for us to get to where we want to go next — that’s to hang a banner up here — we have to handle the Patriots. … This is the playoffs for us. Playoffs start early.” This may be Buffalo’s best chance yet. The Bills are riding high after a 17-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football that earned them a trip to the postseason. One week before, Buffalo held Lamar Jackson in check and pushed the Baltimore Ravens to the brink in a 24-17 defeat. And on Thanksgiving the Bills picked up a season-defining 26-15 win on the road over the Dallas Cowboys. Buffalo has yet to beat the Patriots under coach Sean McDermott, who is the driving force behind the Bills’ turnaround. The Bills have just three wins over the Patriots since 2003 and have never beaten New England in a game that Tom Brady has both started and finished. Brady holds a record of 31-3 against Buffalo, the most wins by any quarterback against a single opponent; he also has more touchdowns (69) and 300-yard games (11) against Buffalo than any other team. Buffalo did an admirable job of containing Brady and the Patriots in the Week 4 meeting between these two teams, however. The quarterback finished with the fifth-worst passer rating of his career (45.9), completing 18 of 39 attempts for 150 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. New England had just 11 first downs (compared to Buffalo’s 23) and finished with 224 net yards of offense. The defense picked apart Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges on Sunday night, leading Buffalo to victory with five interceptions. White had two of those interceptions, placing him in a tie with Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore for the league lead. “It’s been building since 2017,” White said. “I was McDermott’s first pick and I was the start of the new rebuild. I don’t take it lightly and it’s something that I’m going to cherish and I feel like we’ve been building it and we’re still going, it’s not a finished product.” White was named Buffalo’s only Pro Bowl selection on Tuesday night, which was bittersweet for the third-year corner. White has established himself as one of the league’s best corners — after replacing Gilmore in Buffalo — but the Bills were disappointed to not see any other players honored. They know that only continued success can make that change — starting with a win over the Patriots. “They’re the best for a reason,” McDermott said. “They’ve been trailblazers in terms of some of the things that they do situationally, personnel-wise, I’m sure operationally and on the field just how they’ve won games. Really in a lot of ways the rest of the league is chasing them from that standpoint.” “It’s a challenge for us,” Hughes said. “A second-year quarterback hasn’t won for God knows how long against Belichick, but we’re excited about those challenges. That’s what makes football exciting, and the guys in this building are eager to go out there and put it to the test. … We’re excited to write our own history here.”

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