FOXBOROUGH — It has not been an idle two weeks.
The Patriots last played an ocean away on Oct. 28 against St. Louis. By Sunday, they will have waited for what coach Bill Belichick termed a month to play an opponent. But the Patriots have been cramming to prepare for the Buffalo rematch.
“They give you a lot to get ready for,” Belichick said. “We could probably take a month to get ready for Buffalo and still be working on something.”
On Sept. 30 at Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Patriots rumbled to a 52-28 win. Tom Brady threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns. Brandon Bolden and Steven Ridley combined for 243 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
The previous win was just another component of preparation for what the Patriots hope will be another victory.
“When you play a team twice, I feel like I have personal notes,” said defensive end Chandler Jones, who recorded five tackles that day. “I’ll look over them again.”
The Bills grabbed a 21-7 lead in the third quarter, before the Patriots roared back to claim the win. But the prep work the Patriots have applied to the rematch has been to prevent such a rally from being necessary.
“You watch the game that we played, and obviously we let up some points there that you don’t want to,” said defensive end Rob Ninkovich. “You want to start fast and not have some of the turnovers that we did. So just go over the tape, see the things we didn’t do so well the first game, and try to correct that for this game.”
While the bye week affected the schedule and practice time since the 45-7 win over the Rams in London, one thing has not changed: how the Patriots aim to peak on Sunday. The 48 hours prior to kickoff — practice two days earlier, walkthrough the day before — will remain constant.
“You try and have it hit that crest every game,” Belichick said. “Personally, is each guy in the same exact emotional state every week? I don’t know. But the idea is to get to the highest point possible at that time. It’s by sequencing the final days to try and facilitate that.”
Seat of honor
On Friday morning, the Patriots dedicated a seat at Gillette Stadium to honor American prisoners of war and missing in action. The black seat is located on the concourse at the south end of the stadium. It is flanked by American and POW/MIA flags. It is set apart from the regular seating.
The seat will remain permanently unoccupied in honor of the 91,803 POW/MIAs since World War I. Gillette is the first major professional sports venue to feature an unoccupied seat in recognition of American POW/MIA personnel.
Joe D’Entremont, president of the Massachusetts chapter of Rolling Thunder, helped to encourage the Patriots to dedicate the seat. D’Entremont and approximately 50 members of the Massachusetts chapter attended the event aboard their motorcycles. They rode one rumbling lap around the concourse on their motorcycles before parking near the seat.
“I hope we roll like that on Sunday against Buffalo,” said Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
During the dedication, Kraft recognized Gino Cappelletti. The former Patriot was an artillery specialist in the Army from 1956-58.
Linebacker Tracy White (foot) and defensive end Trevor Scott (hamstring) were not on the field for the start of Friday’s practice. Neither player participated in the last three practices this week . . . Count Ninkovich among the players who healed during the bye week. “A lot better,” he said when asked how he felt. “Every Sunday, you’re pretty sore for the next couple days. Getting that one week off definitely helps your body get back to not having that soreness and little nagging injuries.” . . . The Patriots practiced on the main field after being in the practice bubble Thursday. “It’s nice being outside,” Ninkovich said. “But when it’s 32 degrees and snowing and 40 mile-an-hour winds, that’s not too fun. Hopefully, Sunday will be a nice day.” . . . The Bills received a bit of good news when it was discovered the neck injury that forced Chris Kelsay out of Thursday’s practice is not considered serious. The defensive end was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.