The New England Patriots needed all sixty minutes to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers and it was an emotionally taxing game that could affect future performances. The game was incredibly important from a playoff seeding perspective and it revealed the character of the team (“resilient” is the key descriptor, albeit not an original one).
So with the risk of a team not being able to rise to the occasion on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills after such an exhausting game against the Steelers, the Patriots coaches are doing what they can to keep the team focused.
“For us we like to try to be in routine as much as we can,” defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said. “I obviously love to get into the game as soon as I can that we just finished up and try to wrap that up so we can turn the page and get on to the next opponent as soon as possible. [...] I think as a coach you want to see the game again as soon as possible and see what it looked like on film and get whatever you need to get corrected fixed as soon as possible. That way you can really turn the page ASAP on to the next opponent.”
The coaches are moving on to the film and trying to set an example. They also understand that there is a need to keep moving forward.
“In our league, you can’t sit there and look back,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. “You’ve got to look forward. Win, lose or draw, you have to take what you can learn from the game you just got done playing and you apply those lessons to hopefully make your team better or your unit better as you move forward and really get your focus turned to the next opponent and the next task at hand as fast as you can.”
The players understand that they can’t look back at the Steelers game too much because of how important the games are for the rest of the season.
“This is a part of trying to be a good football team and mental toughness and always been able to understand that last week was a game that we wanted to prepare for,” free safety Devin McCourty said. “It was a big game for us. Now this week is the same thing, another big game that you've got to be prepared and be ready to play. In the NFL you can't say this game is the biggest game ever and you get all pumped up and you go win and then you're like ‘alright we did it’ and then you go out and you play bad for the next two or three. Like every week you've got to be ready to go because they're all big games.”
McCourty also noted how the Patriots believe every game after Thanksgiving deserves the same level of importance because of what they mean for playoff seeding and moving on to the next round of the postseason.
And the Patriots know that their opponent, the Bills, will have plenty to play for, too.
“It's going to be a big challenge this week,” Patriots center David Andrews said. “Buffalo's coming in off a big win. They've got a lot they're playing for. We've got a lot we're playing for right now. So, it's going to be a great game, great division game coming down late here in the stretch and both teams are really battling for position.”