Fitzpatrick: Bills look forward to tough test


Fitzpatrick: Bills look forward to tough test

By Mary Paoletti Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
FOXBORO -- Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is a smart guy. The Harvard Guy, remember? But it doesn't take an Ivy degree to know the Patriots will be Buffalo's toughest opponent in the season's first three weeks.

That fact doesn't diminish the Bills' 2-0 record, their 79 total points on offense, or their league-best 190.0 average rushing yards. This is just one of those dates on the schedule that gets circled in red every single year. And since 2003, the record shows a 15-0 advantage to New England.

So Fitzpatrick knows he and his teammates have to amplify the charging effort they've made to open things up.

"I think the Patriots, in general, always present a tough challenge for us," the quarterback said on a Wednesday conference call. "Obviously, the streak and the number of games we've played without beating them . . . They're tough. They're very physical up front. Obviously, they've got two of the bigger bodies, more effective guys in the league playing in the middle, fast in the linebacking corps. They play a lot of man coverage.

"Think that their corners do a good job," he continued. "I think they've given up a lot of yards, but the main reason why is because they've been ahead in games and teams have been forced to throw on every down. We really respect them here and I think they play good defense."

But respect and fear are two very different animals. Though Fitzpatrick is mindful of the force his blue collar Bills face, he likes the team's attitude. After Week 2's 38-35 win in Oakland he told Peter King that the naivete of the young and unsung players gives them a unique edge.

And he thinks it will stand up against the Patriots power-packed roster.

"We're a team full of guys that are looking to make a name for ourselves; we're looking to make a name for our team," Fitzpatrick said. "Although most of us are unheralded and nobody really knows us, we think that we're pretty good and we think that we've got a lot of talent on the roster.

"When I made the comment last week, it was basically that a lot of our guys are so young that they don't realize they're not supposed to go out and score 39.5 points or whatever it is that we're averaging. They feel like that's normal. So, for us, it's keeping that confidence and just keeping the swagger that we have right now and going out there and getting the job done."

This game will be considered a measuring stick. Do the Bills finally have what it takes for a winning season? Or will it be the same old Buffalo song? While a loss wouldn't be damning, a win would be exceptional.

Fitzpatrick considers the implications on a more local level. Turns out, it's a big deal every where he turns.

"We've got to be able to beat the teams in our division to get to where we need to be. And I think, you know, for us, this being our first division game, it takes on that much more importance to us just because it almost takes on extra significance being that, a win here gives you a win and gives a team in your division a loss. So it's extra significant for that reason."

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Belichick asked if playing at home helps: 'Go ask Dallas and Kansas City'

Belichick asked if playing at home helps: 'Go ask Dallas and Kansas City'

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick knows that how you play, not where, is what matters most. 

That's why when he was asked on Wednesday about the advantage the Patriots will have by playing at Gillette Stadium in the AFC title game, he wasn't willing to go all-in on how a comfortable environment will positively impact his team.

"I don’t know," he said. "Go ask Dallas and Kansas City."

The Patriots apparently thought enough of home-field advantage that they played their starters throughout their regular-season finale win in Miami, exposing their best players to potential injury in order to maintain their positive momentum while simultaneously ensuring a better road to the Super Bowl. 

The Patriots fans in attendance on Sunday will help when the Patriots take on the Steelers, Belichick acknowledged. But there's much more to it than that. 

"Yeah, of course," he said, "but the game is won by the players on the field. That’s who wins football games – the players. And they’ll decide it Sunday night."

And if you needed any further proof, just ask the Cowboys and Chiefs how helpful their home crowds were in the Divisional Round. 

Tomlin not letting up on Brown after ill-advised Facebook Live video

Tomlin not letting up on Brown after ill-advised Facebook Live video

FOXBORO – Mike Tomlin didn’t sidestep questions related to Antonio Brown’s ill-advised locker room broadcast.

Instead, Tomlin actually seemed to up the ante during a conference call with New England media. Asked whether Brown seemed to get the message that Tomlin delivered and take it seriously, Tomlin said, “I think time always tells those stories.”

Tomlin easily could have used a “we’re moving on” message or talked about how Brown simply made a youthful mistake but he opted not to. Which isn’t surprising.

The number one criticism of Tomlin is that the Steelers head coach runs a loose ship and that the lack of discipline and accountability is a big issue.

Seeing Brown run a live broadcast from the locker room while Tomlin’s trying to make a point doesn’t just keep that perception afloat, it advances it to a place it’s never been.

It’s not a stretch to say that Brown’s actions imperiled Tomlin’s reputation. There’s no wonder he isn’t willing to let Brown off the hook.

Brown addressed the controversy on Wednesday saying, “I absolutely regret the Facebook Live situation. It’s a total distraction to the organization. A total distraction to my teammates. Obviously disrespect to my coach. I’ve got utmost respect to my coach so I totally regret that.”

Tomlin on Tuesday went as far as to suggest other players doing team-distracting things like Brown wind up getting passed around the league despite their great talent. “That's often why you see great players move from team to team,” said Tomlin. “Don't want that to happen to Antonio Brown.

Tomlin expressed embarrassment that the language he used in the postgame in the privacy of his locker room was served up for public consumption.

“As a parent, I’m not into public displays of that type of language so I was more embarrassed about that aspect of it not necessarily the content or the message of the video,” said Tomlin.

As to referring to the Patriots as “those a*******,” Tomlin said, “Man, you could have applied that sentiment to any opponent. You could have made that tape two weeks earlier and applied it to that opponent. It’s not about the nameless great faces that we play, it’s about our overall preparation and that was the sentiment of the message that I was sending to the guys not necessarily about the New England Patriots, they just happened to be who we’re playing this week.”

Tomlin also addressed the time element he referenced in his postgame speech when he said the Patriots had a day-and-a-half head start on his team. 

“I was just trying to instill a sense of urgency in our group regarding preparation and I wanted them to understand that we didn’t have a lot of time to pat ourselves on the back based on the performance of the last game,” he explained. “That we needed to transition and transition quickly and start the preparation, whether it was actual preparation or just from a mentality standpoint.”

Because of Brown’s decision, it’s probably been a lot harder to make that transition than Tomlin ever hoped.