FOXBORO -- The Patriots, led by Tom Brady, are looking to stay above the fray when it comes to any sort of extra-curricular back-and-forth with the Bills this week.
The Bills? They appear ready to throw down -- or start a shoving match, or yell and scream at someone -- again at a moment's notice.
Three Buffalo players were fined following their Week 4 win over the Patriots because they were involved in a scuffle with Patriots players and coaches after rookie Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett and rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell ran by a Bills warmup drill.
A few defensive backs took exception to how close Brissett and Mitchell came to their area, and safety Robert Blanton shoved Brissett to get the scrap started.
According to reports out of Buffalo, mulitple Bills players have insisted that they won't hesitate to retaliate if the Patriots buzz by their drills again.
Stephon Gilmore said the Bills won't let anybody "push them around." Added he knows Patriots want to get under their skin. https://t.co/WeiBk54kgr— Matthew Fairburn (@MatthewFairburn) October 26, 2016
Bills CB Nickell Robey-Coleman says Bills DBs will retaliate again if a Patriots player runs through their pregame drills Sunday.— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) October 26, 2016
Of course, the difference this time around will be that Brady will be the one who might jog by, not a rookie about to make his second NFL start. Would the Bills treat him the same way they'd treat a 20-something kid who is new to the league?
Immediately after the Week 4 loss, Patriots players were not pleased by what happened before kickoff. Not only did what happened with Brissett not sit well with them, the fact that Patriots coaches were shoved by Bills players irked them as well.
FOXBORO -- The last time the Patriots and Bills met, things were feisty from the jump.
Patriots rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett was shoved by Bills defensive back Robert Blanton as Brissett jogged by Buffalo's warmups. That prompted Patriots receiver Malcolm Mitchell to stop and get in Blanton's face. From there, Patriots coaches did what they could to break it up, but there was continued shoving back and forth until the two sides could be separated.
Days later, Blanton -- as well as corner Nickell Robey-Coleman and safety Aaron Williams -- were fined for unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct.
Would that have occurred had Tom Brady not been suspended? Probably not. Brady was asked about that incident on Wednesday, and whether it spoke to the "bully" mentality that coach Rex Ryan has worked to foster during his tenure in Buffalo.
"Yeah, I think it’s more so what we do when the game kicks off as opposed to what happens before the game or during the week," Brady replied. "You get into a bunch of trash talk and you know us, we’ve never got into that stuff because in the end, it’s just a big waste of energy.
"You focus on the things you need to do to help the team win, and that’s to play well and execute and spend your time on what’s going to happen from the point when the game kicks off to when it ends. That’s where our focus is, that’s where it always will be. We’ll go in there, we’ll be focused, we’ll be ready to go, and we’ll go out there and try to play a lot better than the last time we played them."
Brady's comments that the Patriots have "never got into" trash talk is a head-scratcher -- he's jawed back and forth with opponents on plenty of occasions during his career -- but his point stands: That stuff probably isn't helping anyone.
Once the ball is kicked on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Brady will have to contend with a defense that shut out the shorthanded Patriots at Gillette Stadium for the first time in the building's history. He'll also have one of the more raucous crowds in the league buzzing in his earhole.
"They’re just into it," Brady said of Buffalo fans. "I mean, they’re into it from the first quarter all the way to the last; from pregame warmups to the end of the game. I think it challenges your communication, so we practice – and we played, last week was pretty loud. We’ve played in a lot of loud stadiums and Buffalo is definitely one of the tops.
"I think the thing that is most challenging is when they’re making plays and sacking the quarterback and turnovers like they’ve been getting a lot of this year. That’s what really kind of gets them amped up."