By Tiffany Williams –
For the first time in team history, the New England Patriots will play in back-to-back Thursday night games. Last Thursday night’s Thanksgiving game, the Patriots traveled to Minnesota for a meeting with the Vikings, and after winning three consecutive games, the Patriots lost 26-33. Following their loss, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick at the podium in Minnesota said “We just came up short.” He also said, “Disappointing to come up a little bit short, but we just had too many mistakes they took advantage of, and that really is the difference in a game.” One thing about Belichick, when the Patriots lose, he owns it.
With the Vikings now behind them, the Patriots are looking ahead at what is not just their second Thursday night game but their third game in 17 days, also a key AFC East matchup against the Buffalo Bills. New England and Buffalo will meet for the first of two scheduled 2022 meetings this week when they face off at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots and Bills will meet for the second time in 2022 at Buffalo in the regular season finale on either January 7 or January 8.
New England holds the all-time regular-season advantage, 76-46-1, with the road team winning each of the past three meetings. The teams split last year’s regular-season series, as the Patriots beat the Bills in Buffalo, 14-10, in week 13, and Buffalo won in New England, 33-21, in week 16. The teams also met in the Wild Card round of last year’s AFC playoffs, with the Bills defeating the Patriots in Buffalo, 47-17.
This week’s game will be the 126th meeting between the two teams. The first series between the AFC East rivals began in 1960.
Sunday, when asked about Rhamondre Stevenson’s improvement and how much he has been able to help the team, Belichick said “Yeah, he’s done a good job, continues to do a good job. Pass protection, he’s had a couple of really good plays in pass protection, James White level plays. Seeing things, making adjustments, that kind of thing. He’s been a big help for us in that area of the game and whether it’s been blitz pickup, flare control, catching the ball, all of the above.” Rhamondre Stevenson enters this week third in the NFL among running backs with 50 receptions and fourth in the NFL with 359 receiving yards. Stevenson has averaged 6.0 yards per carry in two games so far in 2022 with a 6.1 average (12-73) vs. Baltimore (9/25) and a 6.4 average (25-161) vs. Detroit (10/9). The last Patriots player to have three games averaging 6.0-yards per carry in a single season was Dion Lewis in 2017. The most games in a season for the Patriots with a 6.0-yard average is Carl Garrett with four games in 1969.
Belichick was also asked how he feels the team is doing physically with their third game in 17 days coming up, and he said “They’re working through it, yeah. I think we have that many players that, a couple of guys we’ll see where they’re at. Most everybody else will be ready to go. It’s the end of November, it’s the start of December so everybody’s been banged up at this point in the year in the National Football League. That’s what this league is.”
This week’s game will be broadcast by Prime Video. Al Michaels will handle play-by-play duties with Kirk Herbstreit as the color analyst. Kaylee Hartung will work from the sidelines. The game will be produced by Fred Gaudelli and directed by Pierre Moossa.