Bills a joke? It's motivation for Whitner ahead of Pats clash

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- After the Buffalo Bills opened the season with two dreadful losses, safety Donte Whitner said he's tired of the team already being used as a punchline.

Whitner expressed his displeasure this week after saying he witnessed Green Bay players laughing at the Bills along the sideline during the Packers' 34-7 victory last Sunday. And Whitner's all too familiar with the Patriots, saying their players have poked fun at the Bills during the course of New England's 13-game winning streak in the series.

For more on the Buffalo Bills, check out the latest from our bloggers.

"Grown men laughing at other grown men on the football field. That happened toward the end of the ballgame last week," Whitner said. "And it happens every time we play New England."

Of course, Whitner noted, there's only one way to stop the jokes: win.

And for Whitner, that stinging feeling of being laughed at -- as much as Buffalo's drought against New England, which dates to the 2003 season -- is enough to motivate him as the Bills prepare face the AFC East rival Patriots (1-1) on Sunday in Foxborough, Mass.

"We don't like it," said Whitner, a fifth-year pro. "We need to stop that. And we look forward to stopping it."

That has been difficult for a team that hasn't been able to stop New England -- or most any other team -- since the 2000 season. It's a 10-year stretch in which the Bills are 2-18 against the Patriots, have failed to make the playoffs and have enjoyed only one winning campaign, in 2004.

And things aren't looking up this season, with Buffalo off to its fourth 0-2 start since 2001 and going through yet another quarterback shuffle after Trent Edwards was benched and Ryan Fitzpatrick was handed the starting job this week.

First-year Bills coach Chan Gailey is aware of the team's poor history against the Patriots, but he declined to mention it to his players.

"It has nothing to do with this year," Gailey said.

As for the Bills being laughed at, Gailey didn't know anything about that. But he likes how it has motivated Whitner.

"That's exactly the attitude we want everybody to have," Gailey said. "You have to walk around with that kind of competitive edge about you."

Although Gailey doesn't say it, Whitner believes the coach has the same edge.

"I know he wants to be the first to go up there and stop this streak," Whitner said. "He wants to show he's a good football coach and show that his team is moving in the right direction. And those are all the questions that will be answered if we go up there and get a win against New England."

It has been so long since the Bills have defeated the Patriots, there are just four current Buffalo players -- linebacker Chris Kelsay, cornerback Terrence McGee, punter Brian Moorman and kicker Rian Lindell -- who were part of the team that scored a 31-0 victory in 2003.

"It obviously eats at you," Kelsay said. "You want to win games. And when you have a losing streak to one particular team, it makes it even worse. It's always in the back of our minds."

The Bills have lost to the Patriots in a variety of ways. There have been blowouts, such as the 56-10 prime-time game in 2007, and close calls, as when Buffalo squandered an 11-point lead in the final two minutes to open last season.

Safety George Wilson can only wonder what would have happened had the Bills won that game.

"Would that change the whole mentality of our team? Would that change the way our season ended up?" Wilson said. "It leaves a lot of questions of what that game could've done for the psyche of this team."

It might have even put an end to the jokes.

"Nobody wants to be laughed at when you're out there," Wilson said. "But you can't really be mad at (others), because we have control over that. We have to perform better so we don't become the laughingstock of the NFL."

Notes: LG Andy Levitre returned to practice Thursday wearing a protective collar after he hurt his neck last weekend. Gailey expects Levitre to play Sunday. ... Gailey said LB Keith Ellison "dinged" his knee during practice but is expected to be fine. Ellison is starting in place of Paul Posluszny, who is out with a sprained right knee. ... The Patriots have beaten five Bills starting quarterbacks during their 13-game streak.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.