The team hotel.
You do recall Tom Brady's nasty critique of the Buffalo hotels earlier this year at the Super Bowl, don't you? Recalling his father's trips to watch him play in his early NFL days, Brady took a gratuitous swipe at our hotels, calling them "not the nicest places in the world."
Well, sources tell me our hotel industry has finally struck back at the Pats' star quarterback.
They've put Brady in a room with a broken TV remote, bed bugs, no room service, a bad heating system and a view overlooking a dark alley. Oh, and a family with six screaming kids in the next room.
But just in case the Pats switch him to a better room, I've got a better way to rattle Brady: A good pass rush.
Forget the water pressure. How about some pressure off the edges? Better yet, how about one of the Buffalo defenders showing Brady the view from flat on his back?
How about Mario Williams doing something to disrupt Brady's annual trip to our community? That's the real key. Maybe the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history could toss aside blockers like extra pillows and spend the day harassing Brady into hurried throws and interceptions.
In other words, it's time for the $100 million man to do what he was brought here to do: Make a difference against the Patriots, who have dominated the Bills and the AFC East for more than a decade.
Make Brady, for my money the best quarterback of all time, look ordinary and in decline.
They didn't sign Williams (and Mark Anderson) to shut down Mark Sanchez and Matt Cassel. I don't think Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey sat in a room last March and said, "We need a stud pass rusher to slow down that dynamic passing game in Miami."
No, it was to stop Brady, who is 18-2 against the Bills since entering the NFL in 2000. Brady has completed 65.5 percent of his passes for 4,830 yards against them. He has 46 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions. The average score of the 20 games is 29-14, New England.
"If you want to win the division, it has been proven that you have to beat them," Gailey said. "So yeah, everything you do is to win the division first and the way you do it is by beating them."
Gailey said that wasn't the only reason they brought in Williams. But it was right at the top of the list. The Bills spent a decade trying to get pressure on Brady, but they couldn't do it with their front four. That meant trying to contain him in coverage, which is a very risky proposition.
Brady has a career winning percentage of 125-37 in the regular season, the best record since the merger. That's an average of better than 12 wins a season. But he hasn't won a Super Bowl since 2005.
The Pats' last four playoff exits have come against teams with formidable pass rushes - the Giants in the two Super Bowls, the Ravens in 2010 and the Jets in 2011.
There's talk of the Bills becoming like the Giants, who won it all with a deep and aggressive line that could disrupt the top quarterbacks. Presumably, Mario Williams would make everyone around him better. He's been very good on occasion through three games, bad at others. They're paying him for great.
"It's the biggest game of our season so far," said Williams, "and it's the game at hand. That's the most important thing. In order for us to get to where we want to get, we've to get pressure on (Brady). All of the games that he's played in that you see them not come out on top, it's been because he's been disrupted and uncomfortable. It's up to us to get after him and keep him moving."
Williams downplayed his role. He said he hadn't been looking toward this day since he signed with the Bills in March. Of course, his Twitter avatar depicts an animated Super Mario character tossing a fireball at a Patriots player with a No. 12 jersey.
"It's been a long time since I've been on Twitter," Mario said, "but it's one of the things, like I said, in order for us to get the W facing this team, it is up to us to apply pressure and keep him rattled."
So tweeting has gone the way of TV-watching with Mario. He doesn't need social media to tell him how big today's game is, and how much Bills fans are counting on him to unsettle Brady and tilt the balance of power away from the Pats after more than a decade.
"Oh, yeah, obviously it's big here," he said. "Seeing him twice a year is something that everybody emphasizes. But at the end of the day, this is new faces up front. It's a new team, and we've just got to take care of what we've got in front of us and go out and do it."
Some faces are new, but how good are the Bills? They've been trying to close the gap since Tom Donahoe was a new hire. Are the Bills ready to challenge the Pats for the division crown? And have New England and Brady slipped as much as people want to believe?
The Pats are 1-2. It's the first time they've been below .500 since losing the opener here nine years ago. They've had little crises and come back even stronger. Last year, they seemed to be reeling after losing two in a row. They blew out the Jets on the road and didn't lose again until the Super Bowl.
Two years ago, the Pats lost by 20 at Cleveland. Was this evidence of incipient decline? No, they won by 13 at Pittsburgh the next week. Brady threw for 350 yards. That was the Sunday night he was seen on national TV ripping into his teammates on the bench. They didn't lose again in the regular season.
So you learn not to overreact to the Patriots' woes. Brady and Bill Belichick generally find a way to turn things around. The Bills picked off Brady four times here last year and snapped a 15-game losing streak to the Pats. They finished seven games behind them in the division.
That doesn't mean Brady isn't concerned. After Sunday's loss to the Ravens, he said the Pats lacked a killer instinct. The Pats have injuries, but they tend to play their best game when their competitive spirit is questioned. We'll find out today. We'll also see if this new Bills team has a killer instinct.
I got the sense that it was losing to the Bills here, not the hotels, that was under Brady's skin at the Super Bowl. Imagine what his mood will like if he checks out of here on a three-game losing streak.
Sullivan: Make Brady check out early
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