New England Patriots

Nov 18, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty (32) celebrates after an interception against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret Devin McCourty is one of the biggest leaders in the Patriots locker room. He’s in his 11th season as a team captain, and he’s helped the team navigate from a 2-4 start to potentially finishing with the top seed in the AFC.

Drafted by the Patriots in 2010, McCourty has played been through chasing the top spot in the division and conference plenty of times before. Yet his mindset down the stretch this year involves the lone season he missed the playoffs in 2020.

“I just think it’s so important to keep perspective. This time last year we were just playing. There was nothing to play for,” McCourty told reporters on Wednesday. “We were out here playing as competitors because we love playing our football, because we’ve been doing it for a long time, and we all trying to earn a job for the next year. That was all we had last year. So the opportunity we get this year to come out here and compete and play in a game that matters, I think is enough for every guy to come in and be ready to go.”

There’s some fitting symmetry between the end of 2020 and 2021 for the Patriots. The Bills also visited in Week 16 last year, a week after the Patriots were eliminated from playoff contention. Buffalo would go on to claim a lopsided 38-9 win in primetime at Gillette Stadium.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.