FOXBOROUGH — The Friendly Confines it ain’t.
New Era Field (nee Ralph Wilson Stadium), a.k.a. the home of the Buffalo Bills, isn’t for the faint of heart, particularly if you’re an opposing player or fan.
The big house at One Bills Drive, tucked into a quiet neighborhood in the Western New York hamlet of Orchard Park, turns into a real-life, raucous Nightmare on Elm Street on game days.
The Bills feed off their fans. Their opponents feel their wrath.
“They’ll be ready to go,’’ Patriots safety Devin McCourty said on Wednesday. “They’ll be there breaking tables probably from 8 a.m. all the way throughout. So, we’ll get their best shot on the field and [from] their fans.’’
But there’s one visitor who routinely turns this house of horrors — where you never know what flying objects are going to get chucked onto the field — into his personal playground while scaring the bejeezus out of the residents.
Yup, Tom Brady.
Brady has collected 15 wins on the site, the fourth most of any quarterback. And that’s friend or foe. Only Buffalo’s Jim Kelly (58), Joe Ferguson (39), and Drew Bledsoe (14 with Buffalo, 4 with New England) have more wins on that turf.
Brady has taken particular joy in winning off the shores of Lake Erie because he knows how hard it is to win there — or anywhere away from home, for that matter.
“When you go on the road in the NFL, you’ve got to get used to [playing in hostile environments] because that’s a lot of what that’s about,’’ Brady said. “You go in there with however many guys — 46 active, five or six other guys, your coaches, a few fans in the crowd — but I think it’s always gratifying when you go in there and then by the end of the game you look up and there’s only Patriots fans left. I always think that’s pretty cool.’’
When it comes to hostile environments, Brady knows Buffalo is right up there.
“So, to go on the road in the NFL is tough, and certainly early in the game, after their pregame tailgate when they’re a little fired up,’’ he said. “So, they’re pretty into it, they’re pretty loud, and we’ve got to go out and we’ve got to execute early. I think starting fast, which we’ve actually done good with this year, that’s really important this week.’’
Brady said the Bills’ defense is adept at disguising its looks, so proper presnap recognition will be needed.
“They do a good job of that. I think everyone’s pretty aware on defense. I think they have a lot of veteran players that do a very good job of rocking in and out of different looks and so forth,’’ he said. “I think Coach [Sean] McDermott puts them in a good position, and Coach [Leslie] Frazier — they put them in a good position where they can make things look similar and they’re a little bit different.’’
The 20-year veteran then paused and smiled.
“I mean, I’ve been at this for a while, so I know what they’re trying to do [and] they know what I’m trying to do,’’ he said. “I mean, I’ll figure it out once the ball is snapped. So, try to get it to the open guy and let them do something with it.’’
Brady, who popped up on the injury report for the second straight week with a calf problem, didn’t appear to be overly concerned about it. In fact, he took a humorous tact when asked about it.
“You know, football is a contact sport,’’ he said. “I wouldn’t say I’m a spring chicken anymore. So, I’m trying to just feel as great as I can and see how it goes tomorrow. But, I feel pretty good.’’
Scary thought for the Bills and their fans.