Coming off his best game of the season, Hunter Henry wasn't looking back at what he and many others viewed as an incorrectly overturned touchdown against the Vikings, instead putting his focus entirely on the upcoming divisional showdown against the Bills.
With eight catches for 133 yards and a touchdown over the last three games, Henry has been heating up after a slow start to his second season with the Patriots. Currently, he comes in as Football Outsiders' ninth-ranked tight end in DYAR. Last year he led the team with nine touchdown receptions among 50 receptions and though he has just less than half of that reception total through 11 games (23), his play is picking up at the right time of year.
Henry hoped that the Patriots offense can take some of their success from the Vikings game and use it going forward but acknowledged their problems in the red zone, where they currently rank 31st in the league, need to be figured out.
"I think there are some things we can build on for sure," said Henry on Monday afternoon. "We did some things and we were able to have some success. I think we need to be better later in the game. We did some things early, in the middle of the game. Just gotta be more consistent at the end. I mean, that's kind of the crucial time in a game you need to be your best and honestly we weren't and so I think that's something we need to build upon. But there's definitely some things that we can take from that game and try to build upon and try to replicate and do again, so there are some good things but always for improvement."
Henry's performances against the Bills last season were symptomatic of the full offensive slowdown vs. Buffalo, registering just a single catch in both the Week 16 and playoff losses totaling 39 yards. Despite some significant injuries, this year won't be any easier against a Bills defense ranked 2nd overall in coverage vs. tight ends, highlighting excellent play from linebackers Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds, as well as safety Jordan Poyer.
"They're really good, they back it up on everything they do," said Henry. "They're good at every level, obviously missing Von [Miller] is big for them I know, but linebacker and safeties and all those guys been playing together for the last few years and they know each other they communicate well, they're fast they keep everything in front of them. They make you really earn everything so it's a tough defense to go against."
There have been no excuses this week coming out of the Patriots regarding how last season ended with two major defeats to Buffalo in the final four games. It's a new year but the stakes are just as high as they were late last year, as New England remains firmly on the AFC playoff bubble needing every win they can muster over the final six games.
"We didn't play good last time we saw these guys," admitted Henry. "They got the best of us for sure, they dominated us in every phase of the game, and yeah,you definitely remember those games. Those aren't just forgotten. But this is a new year. It's a new team. We're a completely different team than we were last year. So, it's a whole new game... I think everybody's excited to go out there and compete, especially here at home in a big-time game. It'll be fun."