Perry: Can Pats summon intensity while feeling sympathy for Bills? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
FOXBORO -- Player after player at Gillette Stadium touched on it. They're feeling for Damar Hamlin, his family and the entire Bills organization. They've reacted to the events of this week as much of the world has, with sympathy for the team they're about to try to beat.
It's a unique situation. Send your prayers. Then days later, compete in a physical contest, with professional success on the line.
Might it be hard to summon the usual amount of game-to-game intensity this weekend?
"It's a big game, you know? At the end of the day, there's a lot of respect for the team we're going against," Mac Jones said. "Obviously in the situation that they're in, being there for them however we can, we've done that all week. Obviously, on the game, there's a lot of emotions flying. That's every game, but obviously this game very much so, too.
"I'm trying to accept all the emotions and just be there for their team, whatever we're going to do... Then when kickoff starts, you kinda just gotta go out there and play and compete against a really good team. It all revolves around him, and being there for him in any way we can."
Jones acknowledged on Thursday that "trying to stay focused on the game is hard. It's a hard thing to do." But it's there, on the horizon, and it could be the end of New England's season if they aren't ready to go against one of the most talented teams in the NFL.
"We all talk about it," David Andrews said. "As leaders, we have to do our best to move forward and try to emphasize moving forward how important this game is. I think that's what we're trying to do. We've been trying to move forward the whole week, against a really good football team, a really good defense. It's going to be a big challenge."
The feeling seems to be among players that once kickoff finally does come around -- with even more time to digest all that's happened, and with perhaps more positive news on Hamlin's condition -- they'll be ready.
"It's going to be hard not to think about it, but it's not going to be hard to go out there and compete," Matthew Judon explained. "I think the Bills and our team are going to go out there, and do the best we can with the circumstances and the situation at hand. But I don't think it's going to be any less competitive of a game. Regardless of what they try to do before the game or during the game to try to uplift him, uplift Damar and his family, I don't think it's going to be hard for us to get up for that type of game."
This is an unprecedented situation, though, and so for some players, trying to predict how much intensity they'll be able to muster for the game is impossible to pin down. When they get there, they'll get there, and -- as Bill Belichick described on Thursday afternoon -- they'll do "the best they can."
"We've got a couple days left until we play the game," Myles Bryant said. "For me to say yes, for me to say no, it would just be a dishonest answer. I just honestly don't know how we would be coming out. We're prepared to play, but the intensity... it's just something we'll have to see."