White, who had intercepted a Tom Brady pass in the Patriots’ 23-3 victory, had fallen out of bounds on the play and Gronkowski bodysurfed him, planting an elbow on White’s head and drawing a flag for unnecessary roughness and a one-game suspension. White suffered a concussion and called out Gronk, saying the play was a dirty move. Not many people argued, but time — to say nothing of the looming rematch — has changed White’s mind.
“As I had time to think about it, I knew that he wasn’t that type of player. We just honed in and moved on from it,” White said on SiriusXM. “I get to see him Sunday and the best way that I can handle that situation is just try and go in there and get a big ol’ W in their stadium and help our playoff chances.
“I’m not a guy that’s going to try to do a cheap shot after the whistle or nothing. I’m going to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played and respect the game. Just like I said, going in there and winning would be the best revenge.”
White was thinking differently right after the hit, according to Ryan Clark, the former NFL safety who now toils for ESPN. Clark told ESPN’s Ryen Russillo that White had texted him, “He said the whole hood want ’em, you know what I mean? The whole hood want Gronk, for sure,” Clark said in an ESPN Radio interview. “That’s the exact text: ‘The whole hood want ’em.’ E. M. ‘Em.”
Now, though, there’s too much at stake for that kind of thinking. The Bills have won two games in a row and remain alive in the AFC playoff picture; the Patriots want to remain the top seed in the AFC and secure home-field advantage in the playoffs.
Brady, of course, was uninterested in talking about whether there may be bad blood between the teams.
“I think you do what you can inside the rules of the game,” Brady said on WEEI’s “Kirk and Callahan” show. “I’ve been in football for a long time. It was an unfortunate situation that happened, and revenge and all that, I think that’s, you know — I’ve never approached the game like that. I’ll just speak for myself. Get revenge against a player that’s done something; obviously, I can’t do anything anyway, in terms of being physical on the field. But … I think it’s just going to be a football game. Two hard-nosed teams. Division game. It’s important for us. It’s important for them. That makes for a good matchup.”
The topic came up with both coaches, too.
“We’ve got too much work to do and this is too good of an opponent for us to, A) talk about it, or B) even think about it,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “The weeks go by too fast for us to do anything but focus on what we’ve got to do and the New England Patriots.”
Although Belichick apologized on the field to McDermott after the game, he was in full Belichick mode when asked about the rematch on WEEI’s “Dale and Holley with Keefe Show.” “What’s on our mind is playing against a very good Buffalo team that I’m sure will play well, as they have the last couple of weeks against Indianapolis and the Dolphins,” he said. “We’re going to have to play better than we played up there. That will be our challenge, and we’ll work this week to get there.”
Gronkowski was apologetic immediately after the game, too, for all the good it did in terms of his punishment.
“First off, I definitely want to apologize to No. 27,” he said of White, who went off with a head injury. “I’m not in the business of that. It was just a lot of frustration. I was just really frustrated at that moment. … Just want to apologize to Tre’Davious White. I don’t really believe in types of shots like that.”
Gronkowski was angered by what he felt was a hold at the top of the route on which the interception occurred. “The throw, I felt like he kind of pushed me a little bit, and I just don’t understand why there wasn’t a flag,” he said. “Couple times in the game. And they’re calling me for the craziest stuff ever.”
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