ORCHARD PARK -- Dion Dawkins might not know it yet, but he had a hand in the Patriots defense leading its team to a 16-10 win at New Era Field Sunday.
"Just wanted to make sure," Kyle Van Noy said, "Dawkins knew who we were."
Earlier in the week, Dawkins spoke about the Patriots defense as though their record-setting three-game stretch to start the season without allowing a touchdown wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
"We don’t care what they’ve done [in] the games before, because they haven’t played us yet,” Dawkins said Wednesday.
“Once they play us — and if it doesn’t change — then that’s when [you] could start talking,” he said. “You guys have seen Josh [Allen], our coaches, really all of us. We’re just on a different mission. We have something going, and I don’t really care who it is [we're playing].”
In their first loss of the season, Dawkins and his offensive teammates were able to manage 375 yards -- a 5.3 yards per play clip. But they went just 3-for-15 on third and fourth-down conversion tries, they threw four interceptions, and they were sacked five times.
Though they scored the first touchdown allowed by the Patriots defense this season, it was not a performance worth writing home about.
"We definitely heard it," Duron Harmon said of Dawkins' comments. "The media gonna make sure we hear it, too. But Dawkins is a good football player. Plays hard for his team. He wanted to talk a little bit, but the winners get the last laugh."
"At the end of the day," Stephon Gilmore said, "We got the win so I guess you bite your words on that."
Gilmore added that any sort of challenge portrayed through the media might give the Patriots a little added juice -- "it adds a little bit more fire" -- going into a matchup.
Feeding off adversity is something the Patriots try to do consistently. Captain Devin McCourty often reminds his fellow defensive backs that they've all been counted out at one point in their careers. He did so again before Sunday's game.
"A lot of guys on this team, they've been through some adversity," Gilmore said. "We use that as fire for each other. Everybody's been through something. I think that allows us to push each other more. We know what we've been through. We just have to prove ourselves each and every day and prove to each other that we'll fight for each other.
"It lights you up a little bit more to fight for each other and put everything out there and to play for each other. It helps out a lot."
On Sunday, though he didn't mean it, it was Dawkins providing a little bit of help.
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