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For one day, Rex Ryan got to be the coaching genius in Foxborough

Bills coach Rex Ryan and Patriots coach Bill Belichick shook hands after the game.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — When you beat the best, apparently you get to be the best.

“On to LA, I guess,” Rex Ryan mumbled under his breath as he opened his postgame news conference, channeling his inner Bill Belichick.

For one day at least, Ryan got to be the coaching genius in Foxborough. With the Bills’ 16-0 win over the Patriots on Sunday, Ryan can now put a line on his résumé that no other coach in history can. He’s the first coach to ever pitch a shutout against Belichick and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in 131 regular-season and playoff games held at the stadium since it opened in 2002.


If anyone knows how tough it is to win at Gillette it is Ryan, whose record at the stadium improved to 2-7 with Sunday’s win. In his news conference, he quickly dumped the sour Belichick routine and became gregarious ol’ Rex again, smiling from ear to ear and putting a Clemson hat on top of the podium as he spoke. Ryan’s son plays football for Clemson, which had a big win over Louisville on Saturday night.

“God, it feels good to finally win here,” said Ryan, who ended a six-game losing streak at Gillette. “I can say this for sure — that was about as good a weekend as you could have. It was a damn good weekend.”

Everyone on both sidelines knew the Patriots’ offense would be limited with Jacoby Brissett, who completed 17 of 27 passes for 205 yards. The Patriots gained only 277 total yards, converted just 1 of 12 third downs, and had to rely on gimmicks and misdirection to have any chance of moving the football. Brissett got the start at the last minute on Sunday, when Jimmy Garoppolo’s shoulder was determined too sore for him to play.


“We knew we were going to get a lot of passes to our left side, easy one-sided reads, so we tried to limit that and pack that side,” Bills linebacker Preston Brown said. “When you’re on the right side, you can basically take a nap.”

Ryan, to his credit, acknowledged several times that beating the Patriots without Tom Brady in the lineup just isn’t the same.

“Satisfying, but let’s face it, they had a player out, and we had our team. We expected to win,” Ryan said. “I’ve got news for you — Garoppolo’s not Tom Brady, either. It ain’t close. He’s a good player, but there’s only one Tom Brady.”

Ryan was loose and lighthearted after Sunday’s win, just like he had been all week. He first tried out his Belichick impression to open his Wednesday news conference, mumbling under his breath about the injury report, and pranked Julian Edelman on a conference call with Buffalo media, hopping on the call as “Walt Patulski of the Buffalo News.”

Ryan kept the wisecracks going on Sunday afternoon, saying that he had inside information that Brissett would start for the Patriots.

“My sources inside the New England Patriot building said that Jacoby Brissett would be the quarterback,” Ryan quipped. “How’s that? I’ll stir some stuff up.”

Was Ryan joking or being serious? Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams said the Bills practiced two defensive game plans all week — one for Brissett, one for Garoppolo — and didn’t know who would be playing until the inactives were turned in 90 minutes before kickoff. But Brown said “we had some inside knowledge that [Brissett] was probably going to play today.”


Either way, Ryan’s comedy routine was more than a result of a good win over the Patriots. The Bills are 2-2, with consecutive wins over the Cardinals and Patriots after starting 0-2. A bad loss to the Patriots’ third-string quarterback could have spelled Ryan’s doom. Instead, the Bills are only one game behind the Patriots in the AFC East and Ryan is no longer on the hot seat, real or perceived.

“This is great for the entire organization,” left guard Richie Incognito said. “Rex is Rex. We’ve got his back no matter what. He’s one of us, and that’s why we all play hard. We want to go kick ass for Rex.”

They got a chance to do that before the game even started. Several Bills defensive backs got into a scuffle with Brissett and Malcolm Mitchell, who had jogged through the Bills’ positional drills. Several coaches from both sides also got entangled in the scrum, which lasted about 15 seconds.

Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff/Globe Freelance

“The first time they ran through, we were just like, ‘Hey man, run on the sideline, outside of the white,’ ” Bills cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman. “But they were on the infield, inside the green, and they were really running through our drills. They ran through it twice.”

Backup safety Robert Blanton started the fracas by popping Brissett when he jogged through the Bills’ players. Brissett kept running, but Mitchell stopped and got into a shoving match with the entire Bills secondary.


“I told them, ‘Hey, don’t run through our DB drills. Can you run on the sideline?’ It’s disrespectful and you can get somebody hurt, because as DBs, we’re backpedaling and stuff,” Blanton said. “And they decided to run through our DB drill again.”

Last year, it was Ryan’s Bills who were undisciplined and getting busted for 15-yard penalties. In Sunday’s pregame fracas, the Bills thought the Patriots were trying to get them to unravel again. Shortly thereafter, Patriots president Jonathan Kraft took a veiled shot at Ryan’s team during his pregame radio appearance, saying that “your team takes on the attitude of the coach.”

“We thought they were just trying to get in our heads, and I guess send a message that this is the type of day we’re going to have today,” Robey-Coleman said.

Instead it was the Patriots who unraveled, committing nine penalties for 74 yards, many of which killed drives and any sort of momentum they were trying to generate on offense.

“They probably weren’t as disciplined as they should be,” Ryan quipped. “I think that’s probably what happened there.”

Of course, the Bills understand that Brady will be back for the rematch Oct. 30 in Buffalo.

“We’ll take today for what it was worth,” Williams said.

But the Bills improved to 2-13 at Gillette. Excuse Ryan for celebrating a little bit, Brady or no Brady.


“Feels pretty good right now,” he said. “A lot of times, we come up short. But today it was great to be on the other side of it.”

Watch: Postgame analysis with Ben Volin and Jim McBride

Photos: Patriots shut out by Bills

Box score: Bills 16, Patriots 0

Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin