It's never easy facing the New England Patriots' offense, especially their vaunted passing game.
The Buffalo Bills' secondary has been bombarded by quarterback Tom Brady and his receiving corps more times than it cares to remember. The defensive backs are bracing themselves for another air raid when the Bills visit the Patriots on Monday night.
"I always know once we play them it's got to be your best game of the year," Bills cornerback Terrence McGee said. "They prepare well, they execute well, they bring guys in who do their job and you can't make a mistake or they'll capitalize on it. You've got to have your best practices throughout the week and definitely your best game as far as technique and detail."
The Bills limited the Patriots to 312 passing yards in two games last season. But the Patriots didn't have Tom Brady, who was out with a knee injury.
His return gives the Patriots' passing attack a dynamic it didn't possess in 2008.
"You can prepare all you want to, but the X-factor is Tom," Bills defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "He's seen it all, he's done it all and he's been through all the pressure situations. It's already a potent offense. But when you have a trigger like that, it's even better because he's back there."
And Brady has a lot of weapons at his disposal, from wideouts Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Joey Galloway to tight ends Ben Watson and Chris Baker to venerable third-down running back Kevin Faulk.
No wonder opposing coaches have so many sleepless nights.
"I think what they've done is put together a lot of firepower," said Fewell, who is just as concerned about a Patriots' running game that now features 10,000-yard career rusher Fred Taylor.
"It's receivers, it's running backs, it's a great quarterback. They just have a great skill. And the offensive line has been together for a long time. That whole group works together so well, and they can hurt you from a number of different areas."
Of all of Brady's weapons, the two linchpins are Moss and Welker.
At age 32, Moss is still one of the game's most dangerous deep threats. The Bills actually did a decent job against Moss last season, holding him to six catches in two games. That's a far cry from his 15-catch, 243-yard and six-touchdown explosion during the Patriots' two wins in 2007.
But with Brady back, Moss is capable of putting up video game-like numbers again.
"We've got a catch phrase back home where if a guy jumps over you and catches a touchdown, people say you got 'Mossed,' " cornerback Leodis McKelvin said. "None of us want to get Mossed on Monday Night Football."
McGee, who had the primary assignment of covering Moss last season, said what makes Moss so difficult to defend -- other than his 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame -- is his speed.
"He's deceptive because his stride is so long it doesn't look like he's moving as fast," McGee said. "But you just watch the defensive back next to him. He's pumping his feet a lot harder and Moss is still running away from him."
While Moss is a vertical threat, Welker is the consummate possession slot receiver. He runs great routes and has a feel for finding soft spots in the secondary. He had 10 catches in the first meeting with the Bills last season and had 111 overall.
Welker is questionable with a knee injury, but the Bills are operating under the assumption that he'll be on the field Monday night.
"He's a great all-around athlete, and they do a good job of moving him around so he can't get jammed at the line of scrimmage," said nickel cornerback Reggie Corner, who will match up with Welker when he's in the slot. "Welker is very quick and very fast. He definitely knows the game and he's a great blocker and experienced guy. You better bring your 'A' game when you're competing against him."
The Bills said there is no bigger test than facing the Patriots' offense, but it's a challenge they accept.
"As a competitor, be it a player or coach, you want to play the best, and these guys are obviously the best," Fewell said. "You want to see if you can throw your best fastball at them and see if they can hit it. That's what we're going to do. We're going to try and do our very best against the best football team in the AFC in our opinion and see if we match up. We definitely look forward to the opportunity to go and attack them."