Just about everyone knows what happened the last time the Patriots took the field against the Bills. But in case you need a refresher, the Patriots’ defense failed to get a single stop, allowing 47 points on seven touchdown drives in a blowout playoff loss.
It was a similar story for the Patriots’ defense in the previous matchup against the Bills, too. They didn’t force them the punt (though they got a pair of fourth-down stops) in what ended up being a 33-21 loss toward the end of the 2021 regular season.
Nearly a year later, the two AFC East rivals are finally set to meet with a big showdown at Gillette Stadium on Thursday.
Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo agreed that his team’s defense should take what happened to them in last year’s playoff game personally, though he thinks that the defense might also be more motivated from the showing they had in the Thanksgiving loss to the Vikings.
“I think you have to [take it personally],” Mayo said Saturday. “Each game is its own game, let me start by saying that. At the same time, it wasn’t our best showing the last time we played these guys.
“I’ll be honest with you though, coming off a loss, I think the guys are tuned in and ready to go and get back onto the field and try to perform a lot better than we did the last time we stepped foot on the field.”
Josh Allen is obviously the guy that gets things going for Buffalo’s offense. In the playoff game against the Patriots game last season, he threw for 308 yards and five touchdowns while adding another 66 yards on the ground.
It feels like Allen’s doing even more for the Bills’ offense this season, though. In the Bills’ Thanksgiving win over the Lions, he had 331 total yards (253 passing, 78 rushing) accounting for 82.6 percent of the team’s total yards.
Allen isn’t the only quarterback to have a strong performance on the ground though against the Patriots in recent memory. Just this season, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson rushed for 107 yards in addition to throwing four touchdowns and Chicago’s Justin Fields rushed for 82 against New England, with each quarterback leading their respective teams to wins.
Mayo thinks that Allen provides a different challenge than those two, though.
“He’s able to scramble anywhere,” Mayso said. “He’s able to scramble up through the B gap and able to scramble on the outside. I can also say that his size is a major difference than those other guys. Lamar is a very quick guy. Fields has top-end speed. I would say that Allen has a combination of those things. Maybe he’s not as quick, but when you add 50 pounds, he’s definitely tough to bring down.
“You talked about it, his arm is incredible. He can throw the ball from anywhere. He can throw it and his feet don’t even have to be set. He can throw the ball from his back foot and still be accurate. He’s definitely a very, very challenging player.”
Getting revenge against Allen and the Bills certainly seems like enough to motivate the Patriots’ defense. But following their Thanksgiving loss to the Vikings, the 6-5 Patriots appear to be in as much of a must-win scenario as a game on Dec. 1 presents.
Mayo thinks that all those factors, plus the fact that New England’s defense gave up 26 points and 358 yards just a couple days ago, are enough to get his guys going.
“We have a group, a mature group, of guys on this team and on this defense that understand the sense of urgency,” Mayo said. “For us, every game is a playoff game. We have to go out there and play that way each and every week. So, not much messaging from me in that regard. I think the players will handle that.”
Stay up to date on all the latest news from Boston.com