It had been nearly a decade since the Buffalo Bills last beat the New England Patriots. The slate was scrubbed clean Sunday, thanks to opportunistic play and a 28-yard game-winning field goal by Rian Lindell.
The scenery has changed quite a bit over the years. Drew Bledsoe, the last Bills quarterback to beat the Patriots, was recently inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame. Only four players on the Bills’ roster have experienced the entire 15-game, eight-year skid: Terrance McGee, Chris Kelsay, Brian Moorman and Lindell.
“A lot of us have been here for a while playing these guys,” Kelsay said. “The trainers, equipment managers, security guards outside. It was awesome to run up the tunnel, looking up at the fans and all those guys. Ruben Brown was in the tunnel. I played with Ruben the first time that we beat them my rookie year and the last time we beat them until today.”
The Bills, now 3-0 and sitting atop the AFC East, have not made the playoffs since 1999. Knocking off the Patriots – who have won three Super Bowls in that span – is a career best for many, especially Kelsay.
“It’s the best one of my career,” Kelsay said. “Regardless of if it’s Week 3 or the last game of the season. I’ve never been to the postseason. I’ve played on Monday night, we played a close on against Dallas, but we came up short. We played these guys 17 times and only won one until today.”
Even Nick Barnett, who was a part of last year’s Super Bowl-winning Green Bay Packers, made it a personal matter.
“I know how emotional it is for our fans, for our players, our coaches and all the organization that’s been here,” Barnett said. “I felt like I had been here for 12 years or 15 years.”
The goal posts were lowered at game’s end, not by rabid-in-celebration fans, but as a preemptive move by the stadium’s security staff.
Jim Kelly, former Bills quarterback and Hall of Famer, had a sideline view. “Where would you rather be than right here, right now?” he quipped, quoting former Bills head coach Marv Levy.
“In terms of what this means for the city of Buffalo, it’s the biggest win since I’ve been here for sure,” said Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Drayton Florence, who sent the crowd into frenzy with his interception return for a touchdown, is ready to turn the page.
“It’s time for those past Buffalo Bill memories to fade away,” he said. “This is a new era, a new day. We’re just out here playing good football and fundamental football.”
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