ORCHARD PARK, NY -- Defensive end Jerry Hughes slowly bent to remove his socks while talking to teammate Mario Williams.
"I got cut-blocked so many times, man, I can feel it," Hughes said in the Buffalo Bills locker room. "It's gonna get worse. I can feel it coming."
Williams looked concerned. All of the Bills looked dazed.
All of them had been cut and ridiculed here on Sunday afternoon at Ralph Wilson Stadium. It finished a New England Patriots 40-32 carving that the Patriots led 37-13 entering the fourth quarter.
Here it is once again with Rex Ryan, another instance where coming through the door with him is so much more fun than exiting that door.
Ryan has said he learned plenty as the Jets' head coach and that he would not repeat those mistakes as Bills head coach. He said after his team throttled Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck last week, that his defense would be ready for Tom Brady and the Patriots. He talked big and tough about the new Bills. He said everybody in the league wanted the Bills to beat the Patriots. The Bills made it clear how much they hated the Patriots.
A new day, they said.
Give the Patriots this: They always answer between whistles.
They are human. They hear the noise. Yet, they ignore that noise and answer snap after snap after snap.
Brady threw for more yards (466) than anyone has against Buffalo in its franchise history. All of those yards and his three touchdowns tosses torched Ryan's defense and cut to the core of Ryan's pride.
Ryan spends days and nights creating ways to shut down Brady when they meet. He has always been obsessed with his game plans vs. Brady, how creative they can be, how forceful, how dominant. That has always been his game within the game against Brady. It is a singular game plan that does not take into account the whole view, the winning view required.
Brady's answer was to throw the ball 59 times, throw it even while ahead late by 24 points, and would have thrown it 59 more times if possible. This was pure salt in wound, killing them brazenly, and Brady finished with the second-most single-game passing yards of his career.
Meanwhile, the Bills were an absolute mental mess, hyped too much, leaping before looking and out of sync. Buffalo committed a comical 14 penalties for 140 yards.
"I just think we got overly hyped, and it kind of backfired," Bills running back LeSean McCoy said. "It's hard to beat that kind of team when you are all emotion and not handling that. And it is not something you have to learn -- that's something you already know."
Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams was more pointed: "There is a difference between coming out ready to go, fired up, ready to play and coming out and being totally without poise, without focus and a lot of stupid, idiotic stuff."
Receiver Percy Harvin said that he and others tried to talk to his teammates about it early in the game, but the zoo was loose. The lack of discipline and focus was too great. And by the time the Bills settled, despite their fourth-quarter blitz of points, it was too late.
"It takes some games, some experiences, a season to get the whole team on board and for messages and play to become clearer," Harvin said. "We can use this as a way to get there."
It really comes back to the rambling Ryan and if he can ever learn that less is more.
He is wired in a way that produces fun fodder for reporters and fans, and builds his team in a way that it becomes noticed, that it plays aggressively and hard. He must adjust to understand that the bigger the moments, the better the opponent, some of his shtick is counterproductive. Some of it is plain "stupid" and "idiotic."
And then afterward, Ryan resorted to this: "You know, (Bill) Belichick outcoached me."
It's always personal with Ryan. It's not the Patriots as a whole, it's just Brady. It's not his team's penalties and turnovers and high-strung play, it's Belichick.
Belichick talked about the energy in the stadium. He has been here many times but this one was different. The crowd was frenzied and Ryan during the week had juiced them. Belichick not only felt the energy, he heard the noise. And when it was over, he talked about winning on the road. About a big divisional victory. He dismissed any feud, fight or rivalry with Ryan. But that big smile Belichick flashed once the game was over and before their brief, mild, midfield handshake told another story.
"Buffalo was 1-0, they were hot at the moment," Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said.
Isn't there some message in that? Ryan and his Bills live moment by moment, while Belichick and the Patriots stay in what they know, focus on what they do, make the next play better than the last play and never let talking supplant performance.
The Bills left saying this was a tough game to swallow. Eating that much crow always is.
"There is a fine line in having the discipline to not go the extra route, to standing up for yourselves but not in a way that lets you down and lets the team down," Patriots savvy receiver Julian Edelman said. "You stick up for yourself between the whistle. This is football. Things get chippy out there. You have to keep your cool. We have a reputation on this team of ignoring the noise. This is one more game for us this season that will help us develop the mentality of a tough team. This is another step in that process."
Rex Ryan may never approach things this way. Rex may always be Rex.That's OK.
But too often it means a bombastic entry, a whimpering exit.
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