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The last time the New England Patriots lost three straight football games, Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore was a 12-year-old sixth-grader. Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was taking economics classes as a sophomore at Harvard University.
The Bills aim to make it happen again - for the first time since the 2002 season - when the Patriots visit Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday. The Bills (2-1) can take a two-game lead over the Patriots (1-2), who lost at home to Arizona two weeks ago and at Baltimore on Sunday.
How rare is a Patriots losing streak? This is just the fourth time in the last decade that New England has lost back-to-back games. The last time New England was under .500 was after the season opener in 2003 (a 31-0 Bills win).
Is this a good time or a bad time to be catching the Pats?
"You don't even worry about that," said Bills safety Bryan Scott. "You can't worry about that. Yes, I'm sure they're desperate for a win. They're 1-2, and people are saying they haven't had a losing record since '03 or something. But we're desperate too. We have that sense of urgency and that's what we're going to play with."
"We know that every time we play them they're a great team," Fitzpatrick said. "They're the ones that have owned this division for a lot of years now, and the division always goes through them. So for us, regardless of the record, they've lost two very tough games. We know this is a very good team, one of the best in the NFL, and we've got to go out and play our best game in order to compete."
New England has won the division three straight seasons and eight of the last nine years. However, the Patriots said Wednesday they're not thinking that far down the road.
"We don't talk about records," Pats coach Bill Belichick told reporters in Foxborough, Mass. "I talked about getting ready to go against Buffalo."
"You can't sit around for four days and mourn a loss and say, 'God, this is the end of our year,' " Pats quarterback Tom Brady said. "I mean, we're 1-2, we're not in a good position right now. We're in the exact position we deserve to be in, and we've got to do something about it. So the energy and attention is focused on this opponent and how we can be better and how we can play better so that hopefully if we play well, we can get to 2-2."
The Bills snapped a 15-game losing streak to the Patriots in Week Three of last season with their thrilling 34-31 win in Orchard Park.
Numerous Bills said getting that streak off their back is good for their confidence.
"No question," Scott said. "Last year we were able to come back from 21 [down] but also we were up 21 and lost [in the season finale at New England]. You know what the Patriots are capable of doing, but because we've kind of gotten over that hump and got a victory over them we know we're able to do it."
The Bills need to start winning games in the AFC East. They lost to division-rival New York in Week One. Buffalo is 4-21 in division since 2008. New England is 18-6 in division over that span. The last time the Pats lost as many as three straight was a four-game losing stretch in 2002, a season in which they went 9-7.
"We've got to win these games," Fitzpatrick said. "In order to get back to the playoffs, in order to do all of that stuff, this is the kind of game we have to win. I can't stress enough, they're a great team. They're gonna be a great opponent on Sunday, and it's going to show us a lot about ourselves."
email: mgaughan@buffnews.com