FOXBORO, Mass. — Rex Ryan was in a jolly mood when he walked into his postgame news conference Sunday afternoon, and for good reason.
Ryan’s Buffalo Bills had just beaten the coach’s greatest rivals, the New England Patriots, on the road at Gillette Stadium. The 16-0 blanking was just the Bills’ second win in Foxboro since 2000 and New England’s first shutout loss at home since 1993.
“On to L.A., I guess,” Ryan told reporters after the game, an obvious nod to his Patriots counterpart, Bill Belichick. “God, it feels good to finally win here. Been close about six times. Finally won one, it was great.
“I can say this for sure, that that was about as good a weekend as you can have. I don’t know what you are talking about, but it was a damn good weekend. And I appreciate it. Questions, please.”
The Patriots were without their top two quarterbacks for the AFC East matchup, as Tom Brady served the final game of his Deflategate suspension and Jimmy Garoppolo remained sidelined with a shoulder injury. That left New England with third-string rookie Jacoby Brissett, who completed 17 of 27 passes for 205 yards in a losing effort.
“We needed a win, and that was a must-win situation,” said Bills running back LeSean McCoy, who led all rushers with 70 yards on 19 carries. “They’re a heck of a team. We were favored, for sure. Going into the game without one of the best players to ever play the game, we kind of figured we should win this game. It wasn’t a doubt in my mind that we were going to win this game without (the Patriots) having Tom.”
Despite the loss, the Patriots remain atop the AFC East at 3-1. The Bills are second at 2-2, while the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets both sit at 1-3 entering Week 5.
Some additional notes from Sunday:
— Rob Gronkowski was all but invisible in his second game back from a hamstring injury. The big Patriots tight end was targeted just twice — including not at all in the first half — and finished with one catch.
“I felt good (Sunday), went out there,” Gronkowski said. “The coaches, training staff and everything, we just had a little plan, obviously, not to go every single play, but to build it back up. I felt good out there, felt good every time I stepped out there; just got to keep on improving.
“It’s basically just up to me to get back to full speed. I’ve just got to go out to practice and do what I’ve got to do to get back to where I need to be.”
The Patriots’ wide receivers also had a quiet day, with Julian Edelman catching one pass and Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell all finishing without a reception. Mitchell, who scrapped with several Bills defensive backs during pregame warmups, was not targeted.
Martellus Bennett was the only Patriots pass-catcher to enjoy a productive afternoon. He caught five of the six balls thrown his way and finished with a game-high 109 receiving yards.
“He’s a great dude to work with and he’s an unbelievable football player,” Gronkowski said of his fellow tight end. “I’m super happy he’s here with us. He’s a great guy to work with blocking-wise and in the receiving game, and we learn a lot from each other, so I can’t wait until we’re both out there at full speed together.”
Bennett briefly left the game during the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a shoulder injury, but he later returned and said after the game that he felt fine.
“I’m good,” he said. “Get knocked down, get back up. That’s life. Get back up swinging. That’s just who I am.”
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images