FOXBOROUGH — The Buffalo Bills are plummeting toward their 13th straight season without a playoff berth. Four losses in their last five games are the wrong steps toward that elusive goal.
Now they must play the team that has dominated them for a decade in a stadium where they’ve never won.
Beat the New England Patriots? The Bills have done it just twice in their last 21 matchups.
“They’ve obviously had our number,” Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “We’re kind of down right now. We don’t think we’re out. I think there’s still a positive vibe in the locker room. I think you have to have that, otherwise you’re beat before you go play.”
It’s not that the Bills haven’t been competitive in Foxborough.
In 2009, they led 24-13 but lost 25-24 when Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes in the last three minutes. In 2010, they led 24-23 with two minutes left in the third quarter but lost 38-30. And last season, they led 21-0 after one quarter then collapsed and lost 49-21.
So the Patriots (5-3) don’t expect an easy game as they try to improve to 11-0 against the Bills (3-5) at Gillette Stadium. A victory takes on more urgency since they lead the Miami Dolphins by just one game in the AFC East.
“It’s always tough against a division opponent, no matter what the guys’ records are,” New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said.
The Patriots will be rested after having a bye last week. They went into it after their best game of the season, a 45-7 win in London in which they held St. Louis scoreless after allowing a touchdown on the Rams first possession.
In that game, Brady threw a season-high four touchdown passes without an interception or a sack, Stevan Ridley ran for 127 yards and Rob Gronkowski caught two touchdown passes for the second consecutive game.