FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Backup safety Robert Blanton got in the first shove on Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett before the game even began.
The rest of the Bills’ defense then took turns getting its licks in on New England’s interim starter following kickoff in keying a 16-0 win on Sunday.
All it took for Brissett to get Buffalo’s attention was jogging through the Bills’ pregame warmups.
“It actually crunk us up,” Bills cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman said. “We came out there with some fire, and it was like, ‘Nah, we ain’t going to let nobody disrespect us no matter where we’re at.”
Brissett was sacked three times, lost a fumble and oversaw a Patriots offense that was shut out for the first time at home since 1993. The loss came during the rookie’s second career start in place of backup Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s sidelined by a shoulder injury, and with starter Tom Brady serving the fourth and final game of his “Deflategate” suspension.
New England dropped to 3-1. Buffalo (2-2) has won two straight and won at New England for just the second time in 16 trips.
The latest bad blood between AFC East Division rivals began about an hour before kickoff, when several punches were thrown during an on-field altercation.
Blanton accused Brissett and Patriots rookie receiver Maclolm Mitchell of twice running through their drills.
After warning them the first time, Blanton ran at Brissett and gave him a big shove to the chest the second time he came through. Brissett didn’t stop, but Mitchell retaliated by shoving Blanton. Blanton responded by punching Mitchell in the chest and head-butting him, which led to several other players and assistant coaches getting involved.
“I think that was pretty disrespectful,” said Blanton, noting someone could have gotten hurt during a collision.
Bills linebacker Zach Brown was fired up once he heard what happened.
“When I got out, they told me about it and I’m like, ‘Man, you didn’t invite me to the party?'” Brown said. “I was ready for him. I don’t like them. Respect was left on the bus when it comes to them. That had me going.”
Brown had a sack and forced a fumble by drilling Brissett in the chest. The ball popped loose and was recovered by linebacker Preston Brown to end the Patriots’ drive at Buffalo’s 8.
“He’s a third-string quarterback, so for us, it was, ‘We’ve got to make him look like a third-string quarterback,'” Zach Brown said.
New England was limited to two first downs and 98 yards net offense in the first half.
Overall, the Patriots had just four drives cross midfield. They ended with Brissett’s fumble, Stephen Gostkowski missing a 48-yard field-goal attempt wide right, turning the ball over on downs and the final whistle.
Brissett was dismissive when asked about the scuffle.
“I don’t even remember it,” he said.
Patriots receiver Julian Edelman declined to discuss what happened.
“It’s not something I’m here to talk about,” Edelman said.
Bills coach Rex Ryan couldn’t resist taking a verbal shot at the Patriots.
“They probably weren’t as disciplined as they should be,” Ryan said.