The Buffalo Bills will try to devise a plan that puts the brakes on Tom Brady's passing when they meet the New England Patriots this week.
Young cornerback Terrence McGee definitely will be part of the plan.
Preventing the deep ball definitely will be part of the plan.
And veteran cornerback Troy Vincent looks like he will be part of the plan at free safety -- if his injured knee allows him to play.
How well the Bills contain the Patriots' two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player may decide the AFC East matchup in Foxboro, Mass.
In leading New England to a 7-1 record, Brady has thrown for the fifth-most passing yards in the AFC. He's on pace for a career-high 30 touchdown passes.
Brady threw for 298 yards in the Pats' 31-17 victory over the Bills on Oct. 3. In his previous meeting against the Bills, in Week 17 last season, he hit 22 of 26 passes for 265 yards in a 31-0 Pats win.
"He reads the defense and finds the uncovered receiver," McGee said. "He's very patient back there. You have to stay with your coverage the whole time."
McGee had a nightmare outing in Sunday's win over the New York Jets. However, he will be back in the starting lineup this week at left cornerback. Coach Mike Mularkey said McGee's strong showings the previous four games in place of Vincent showed he deserves to be on the field.
"If you replace somebody every day they have a bad day at work, how many would be sitting in this room right now, including myself?" Mularkey said. "He's done a lot of good things."
Vincent was able to practice on only a limited basis Wednesday on the right knee that underwent arthroscopic surgery last month. Mularkey strongly indicated Vincent would be playing safety if he can play Sunday.
"Terrence is starting right now, and I'm not sure that Troy Vincent's injury is part of the equation of whether Terrence does or not," Mularkey offered.
Vincent, who has 42 career interceptions, presumably would give the Bills more playmaking in the secondary. Free safety Izell Reese has been steady for a Bills defense ranked ninth against the pass but has rarely created turnovers.
Brady exploited the Bills deep in October. He hit four passes of 30 or more yards. The Bills blitzed more than 40 plays in that game, but Brady was brilliant in dissecting it. (Not all of the blitzes were big gambles. Many were zone rushes.)
"I think we were fortunate last game to catch Buffalo in a few coverages that we took advantage of," Brady said. "They're usually pretty good at covering the field on deeper throws. . . . It's something that hasn't been a strength of ours, getting the ball down the field. But we're doing a better job of it this year."
On several plays, the Pats' offensive line did a good job of picking up the Bills' blitz, and that gave Pats receivers time to go all the way across the field and run under lofted Brady passes.
"They timed it just right, throwing the ball way across the field away from the coverage," McGee said. "As long as you're playing it right, it can be stopped. If we play inside coverage, they couldn't do it."
Why did the Bills blitz so much last time? Because Brady is so good at throwing underneath the coverage and executing long marches. Brady distributes his passes pretty evenly among his top four receivers, David Givens, David Patten, Kevin Faulk and Daniel Graham. The Pats are sixth in the NFL in third-down conversions.
"I wouldn't trade my receiving corps for any in the league," Brady said. "They're all very capable, hard working, unselfish. . . . I think we've done a good job of staying out of third-and-long situations. When you stay in those third-and-4-and-5 situations it's much more manageable, and they're really forced to cover everybody on the field."
McGee expects Brady will be throwing at the player he's covering.
"They're going to keep coming until you stop it," McGee said. "You have to go out there and make plays. That's the only way you're going to get respect in the league."