|Patriots take nothing for granted in game against winless Bills|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 20 September 2007 15:23|
It probably wouldn't make a difference if they did.
Fresh off a pair of dominating 38-14 wins over two of last season's playoff teams, the Patriots will welcome on Sunday the winless Buffalo Bills, a team hit hard by injuries and offensive ineptitude.
``There's no doubt that we need to play a lot more consistently in every area to have any chance to play with the Patriots,'' Buffalo coach Dick Jauron said. ``They're awfully talented.''
On offense, Tom Brady has thrown just 12 incompletions in two games and Randy Moss shares the NFL lead with 18 catches. On defense, two linebackers intercepted passes against the San Diego Chargers last Sunday, with Adalius Thomas outrunning smaller defenders to return his 65 yards for a touchdown.
A week earlier, the Patriots routed the New York Jets. But NFL commissioner Roger Goodell penalized them for using a sideline video camera in violation of league rules to tape Jets' coaches sending in signals.
The cost: fines of $500,000 for coach Bill Belichick and $250,000 for the club, and the loss of a first-round draft pick next year if the Patriots make the playoffs, or a second- and third-rounder next year if they don't.
``We wanted to do our best for Belichick,'' Brady said after the game.
Now they can concentrate on football. But Brady said that was the case last week for a team known for blocking out distractions.
``We've been dealing with football for three weeks, so I don't know what everyone else has been dealing with,'' he said. ``That has been our focus and I think that's why we've come out ahead. I think it's no different this week.''
The Bills have had a tougher time focusing on football.
Tight end Kevin Everett sustained a life-threatening spinal cord injury in a 15-14 loss to Denver in the opener. Free safety Ko Simpson and cornerback Jason Webster suffered season-ending injuries in the game. Starting linebacker Keith Ellison is out with a high ankle sprain and his replacement, Coy Wire, is sidelined with a knee sprain.
On offense, Buffalo has just one touchdown in two games.
``I just think that we probably need to open it up a little bit more in the beginning,'' quarterback J.P. Losman said after last Sunday's 26-3 loss at Pittsburgh. ``I think that we are back on our heels a little bit in the beginning.''
The Patriots like to attack early. Brady threw touchdown passes on the Patriots' first series in the first two games. He's led an offense that has averaged 419 yards per game and scored eight touchdowns. Buffalo's offense has a total of 407 yards - 154 on rookie Marshawn Lynch's rushing.
``I'm not sure what `open it up is,' I think we need to execute better,'' offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild said. ``Our passing game is out of sync a little bit.''
The Patriots' air attack couldn't be much better.
Besides Moss, they have two other dangerous newcomers: Wes Welker with 14 catches and Donte' Stallworth with just three, but with the potential for many more.
``He's always been a great quarterback,'' Bills safety Donte Whitner said, ``and now he's got weapons all around him.''
Typically, the Patriots say they're not taking a much weaker team for granted.
Defensive end Aaron Schobel ``has killed us,'' Belichick said.
The Bills' defensive style is different than the ones used by New England's first two opponents.
``They're a speed team and they fly around,'' Patriots left tackle Matt Light said. Schobel ``is a relentless style pass rusher. He's not going to give up on any plays.''
Light is a critical part of a talented offensive line that has been together for a while. He protects Brady's blind side. The quarterback has been sacked just twice.
The demanding Belichick, of course, expects better even though his team is 2-0 and the other three AFC East teams are 0-2.
``I told my brother after he was trying to tell me how well we played (last Sunday), `it doesn't matter how well we play. Bill's always going to find 100 things that we did wrong,'' Stallworth said, ``which he did.''
But not nearly as many as Buffalo's offense as Losman has missed receivers, while deep threat Lee Evans has been contained.
Brady leads the NFL with a 79.7 completion percentage.
``It's a very explosive offense,'' said Bills cornerback Terrence McGee, who is nursing a rib injury. ``Against them it's got to be your best game. You can't have any mistakes.''
That doesn't mean Belichick is happy. He snapped at a reporter who said many people are talking about the Patriots going 16-0.
``That's so ridiculous,'' he said.
Going 3-0, now that's so much easier.