Last time the New England Patriots clashed with the Buffalo Bills, they found themselves caught up in one of their most unforgettable games in recent memory.
But for all the wrong reasons.
Buffalo displayed sheer and utter dominance in the AFC wild-card game back in January, but now the Patriots will finally get a chance to avenge that loss on Thursday night when they face the Bills in Foxborough, Mass.
New England (6-5) never found out how to contain Buffalo’s high-powered offense in the 47-17 setback in last season’s playoffs, allowing seven touchdowns on all seven of the Bills’ possessions. The only “stop” the Patriots could muster was at the end of the game, when backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky kneeled to run out the clock.
Josh Allen threw for 308 yards and more passing touchdowns (five) than incompletions (four) that day.
Running back Rhamondre Stevenson is eager to get back out on the field against Buffalo (8-3) to try and rinse the loss out of New England’s system.
“I’m not gonna just dwell on something that’s in the past, but it was definitely in my mind how we ended the season off last year,” Stevenson said. “I feel like we get a chance to go out there and put a different game on film.”
The meeting with the Bills caps a hectic portion of the schedule for the Patriots, as they will be playing their third game in 12 days. New England pulled out a 10-3 win against the New York Jets on Nov. 20 before falling 33-26 to the Minnesota Vikings on Thanksgiving.
It will also be the first time in franchise history that the Patriots play back-to-back Thursday nights.
Things have been hectic for Buffalo over the last two weeks as well, as it had its game against the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 20 moved to Detroit due to record snowfall, and then had to square off against the Lions, again in Detroit, just four days later.
The Bills won both games and now sit in a tie for first with the Miami Dolphins atop the AFC East. But their hold on the division could be in jeopardy as they approach a critical three-game stretch.
Buffalo will face the three other teams in the division over the next three weeks, beginning with New England before returning home to face the Jets and Dolphins.
“We just got to look at it one game at a time. We got this one (against the Patriots) and take care of the rest when it comes about,” Bills safety Jordan Poyer said. “Obviously big division rival game this week, and like I said we’re excited to play on the road (in) New England.
“This is what NFL football’s about.”
For the inaugural game of the gauntlet, Buffalo could be without linebacker Von Miller, who missed Tuesday’s practice with a knee injury. Offensive tackle Dion Dawkins (ankle) and tight end Quintin Morris (illness) also didn’t participate.
Running back Damien Harris (thigh), safety Jabrill Peppers (illness) and offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn (foot) missed the Patriots’ practice on Tuesday. A thigh injury forced center David Andrews to be limited along with receiver Jakobi Meyers (shoulder) and cornerback Jalen Mills (groin).