1 - Belichick on Thurman's legendary Super Bowl XXV performance
There's a phrase in Western New York that can perhaps best be described as taboo, two simple words that bring overwhelming memories and emotions to the forefront of Buffalo fans' minds.
That phrase is "wide right."
Scott Norwood's potential game-winning field goal hooked right in the dying moments of Super Bowl XXV, handing the Giants their second league championship under Bill Parcells' reign.
In a losing effort however, Buffalo running back Thurman Thomas was electric in the contest, rushing for 135 yards and one touchdown. Thomas undoubtedly would have been named Super Bowl MVP had the Bills won the game, and some analysts argued that he should have won the award regardless.
Current New England head coach Bill Belichick, a Parcells product, was on New York's coaching staff serving as defensive coordinator. He chose to drop eight into coverage most of the game in an effort to slow down Buffalo's no-huddle passing attack. That of course meant opportunities for Thomas to run the ball and he took advantage.
Belichick, now a seven-time Super Bowl champion, described Thomas as a difficult player to contain.
"He was tough. He was tough," Belichick said. "Great back that could do it all, could play on all three downs. Obviously, a great runner, great in the passing game, tough competitor. It was always a battle with him. Fortunately, we won our share as a team, but he was a hard guy to handle."
Belichick also described Buffalo's early 1990s-offensive unit, led by Thomas, Jim Kelly, and Andre Reed, as "one of the most explosive in the history of the game."
Belichick will watch the Bills honor the "tough" Thomas this Monday. Buffalo will retire the Hall of Famer's jersey number at halftime of its Week 8 contest with the Patriots.
2 - Jerry Hughes: You always want to play against the best
For some defensive players in the NFL, going up against Tom Brady is a nightmare.
Jerry Hughes isn't like other defensive players, however, as facing off against the veteran quarterback is something he looks forward to.
Getting pressure on Brady is something that Hughes is comfortable doing at this point, as he has faced off against the quarterback nine times over the past five seasons. The defensive end's lifetime stat line against New England includes 27 tackles, 11 quarterback hits, and five sacks.
Hughes will look to add to this impressive total on Monday when the Bills host the Patriots in a primetime matchup. He's eager to make an impact in the divisional contest, as facing off against a player of Brady's caliber is something that never gets old for the 30-year-old.
"It's exciting," Hughes said. "You always want to play against the best. This is why we train. This is why we do everything that we do. You always, as an athlete, you want to compare yourself against the best that there is. Certainly for our sport, you know he's up there as one of the top tier players. For us, it's just going out there, executing, and playing fast every snap."
3 - What this Bills CB learned from practicing with Tom Brady
Though there's no foolproof method for helping a player reach their potential, consistently putting them up against talented opposition will certainly help them develop.
For Ryan Lewis, going up against accomplished players in practice has been the norm since he entered the NFL in 2017.
Lewis, who went undrafted in 2017, signed with the Patriots' practice squad in September after a quick stint with the Arizona Cardinals. Although he never suited up for New England, he was able to watch and learn from Tom Brady in practice.
"It was great," Lewis said. "A great opportunity. When you get to go against someone like that, just well known, I think it makes you better. Especially as a rookie, you get to learn. I enjoyed it a lot."
Lewis spent the entirety of his rookie campaign on the Patriots' practice squad, often lining up on the scout team against Brady and the starting offense in practice each week. He was a member of the team's final cuts in the 2018 preseason. The Bills claimed the talented defensive back off waivers, and he has totaled 12 tackles and three pass deflections in three appearances this season.
Lewis will have his first opportunity to go up against Brady in regular season action this Monday, provided he's active. The second-year man is eager to utilize the information he learned from quarterback should his number be called.
"[I learned] just little things," Lewis said. "What he picks up on, what he's looking at. If I'm ever playing off coverage, he might try to check something down quick. Just little things."