BOSTON (CBS) — Normally after a road win, the Patriots would immediately return home and prepare for their next game at the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium.
But with their next game south of the border and in the high altitude of Mexico City, head coach Bill Belichick changed up their playbook a little bit. The Patriots are remaining in Colorado until Saturday, giving them a chance to spend a full week in an atmosphere similar to what they’ll play in on Sunday (the altitude at Estadio Azteca in Mexico is 7,503 — 2,000 feet higher than that in Sports Authority Field) when they take on the Oakland Raiders.
After their 41-16 win over the Broncos on Sunday, the team boarded buses and made the 45 minute drive to Colorado Springs. They’ll spend the week at the Air Force Academy, where they’ll hit the practice field and enjoy a little bit of extra downtime thanks to their quick trip to their temporary home after Sunday’s victory.
“It was a good time, everybody excited about the win, having a good time on the bus,” safety Duron Harmon said on a conference call on Monday. “We got here, pretty much late, and we sat around and talked and had a good time. We talked about the game, what we have to do this week, going against a good Raider team with a good offense. Kind of just sat back and relaxed.
“It was a good time to take a deep breath and be with your teammates and enjoy the night,” Harmon added.
Running back Rex Burkhead, who made impacts on both offense and special teams on Sunday night, appreciated a little extra time to rest.
“Normally, when we have flights after a game, we don’t get home until very early the next morning, and you don’t really sleep on the plane,” he explained. “So just trying to get as much rest as possible with this road trip going on and I think that’s the critical thing for the team, get as much recovery as possible before we head down to Mexico.”
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy said this is the first time he’s been on such a trip.
“It draws the team closer. You’re spending all day with them, you’re eating every meal with them and so you get to know teammates better and have a better time,” he said.
This business trip away from home is similar to what the Patriots did during the 2014 season, when they remained on the road between games in Green Bay and San Diego rather than fly back to New England. After dropping their game in Green Bay, the Patriots won their next three games and six of seven en route to their Super Bowl title (they dropped their Week 17 game against the Bills with mostly backups playing). That team credited their week together as a great bonding experience that helped them gear up for that postseason run.
Like a normal week, the Patriots won’t hit the practice field until Wednesday, and practice Thursday and Friday before heading to Mexico City on Saturday. There’s little doubt Belichick (a history nut) will have a special tour planned during their stay at the Air Force Academy, a nice break before gearing up for the final seven weeks of the regular season.