FOXBORO — The Buffalo Bills amassed a whopping 59 points and 919 yards against the New England Patriots in 2012, the best two-game total against an AFC East division foe in a season this decade.
There was one problem, a problem Bills’ kicker Rian Lindell, for one, has experienced all too often this past decade.
It wasn’t enough.
The Patriots trumped the Bills with 929 yards and 89 points in their two games this season, including yesterday’s flimsy 37-31 win.
“We’ve been in position to beat them, like today, but we just don’t beat them,” said Lindell, who is in this 13th season and 10th with the Bills. “We’ve had our chances. But that isn’t enough. To beat the Patriots, you have to have your A-plus game. Really. They find ways to win. Trust me, I’ve seen a lot of them.”
Lindell was playing his first ever game for the Bills after signing as a free agent before the 2003. The Bills waxed the New England Patriots, 31-0, on Sept. 7, 2003.
That was five days after the Patriots released Lawyer Milloy, who was picked up by the Bills. And, oh yeah, Drew Bledsoe was the Bills quarterback.
“How could I forget that game,” said Lindell. “That’s the game Sam Adams intercepted the ball and returned it for a touchdown. That was an incredible day. There was a lot of emotion. I felt pretty good about playing the Patriots.”
A lot has happened to Lindell’s Bills since. They have fired three head coaches and replaced four starting quarterbacks.
Over that time, the Patriots have had one coach, Bill Belichick, and, other than a knee injury, one quarterback, Tom Brady.
Lindell and the Bills have beaten the Patriots one other time, 34-31, last September. Lindell remembers that one, too. He ended the game with a 28-yarder to give the Buffalo a 3-0 record.
“Trust me, continuity, especially in those two positions, is important,” said Lindell, a native of Vancouver, Wash. “When I left Seattle (after the 2002 season), I knew that was a good group. That group stayed together for the next three years and they went to a Super Bowl. Continuity is very important in this league.”
Lindell and the Bills have had only one winning season — 9-7 in 2004 — since Lindell joined the team in 2003, going 60-93 over that stretch. The Patriots have now beaten the Bills 18 times (versus only two defeats), or roughly 20 percent of their losses.
The irony is that Lindell isn’t complaining. He loves Buffalo ... the team and region. It’s why he re-upped on a four-year deal worth $10 million in February.
“Obviously, one of the reasons was the money,” said Lindell. “But this is where I want to be. I want to win like everybody else does. I want to win with this team. We’re close, like we were today. We just have to finish the job.”
As for many people in New England who are not happy with the way the Patriots, now 6-3, have looked this season, Lindell says “they” should get over it.
“Maybe the Patriots weren’t at their best,” said Lindell. “But this league is about winning. And since I’ve been around, nobody has done it better than these guys.”
Email Bill Burt at firstname.lastname@example.org