The New England Patriots are enjoying the road so much that they’ve packed their suitcases for some extended time away.
The defending Super Bowl champions didn’t return home after Sunday night’s victory over the Denver Broncos — their 13th straight win away from Foxborough, Massachusetts — staying in Colorado for the week instead. The team will practice this week at the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs, then head to Mexico City on Saturday for Sunday’s game against the Raiders.
“That’s the critical thing for this team is to get as much recovery in as possible before we head down to Mexico,” running back Rex Burkhead said on Monday, about 13 hours after the Patriots beat the Broncos 41-16. “It’s different being out here all week preparing, but I think definitely beneficial for the team and something that will help us out for the week in preparation for Oakland.”
The Patriots went 8-0 on the road in the regular season last year, then won the Super Bowl on a neutral field in Houston. They have won their first four road games this year, including Sunday night in Denver, a stadium that has been one of the rare weak spots on Tom Brady’s resume.
“We just want to be road warriors,” linebacker Kyle Van Noy said. “And it shows we’re ready to play and we’re focused, and it’s always fun to win in someone else’s home.”
Of course, the five-time Super Bowl champions have been pretty good at home, too: They were 8-2 last year at Gillette Stadium (including postseason), and in the previous three seasons their only losses at home were in a couple of season finales after their playoff berth was locked up.
But the extra week on the road will get them at least one more decent night’s sleep.
Safety Duron Harmon did the math and figured that after a Sunday night game that ended around 11:30 p.m. EST the players would have needed to bus to the airport, board a four-hour flight back to Boston and then get themselves home from the airport by 5 or 6 a.m.
Instead, they took an hour-long bus ride to Colorado Springs.
“Nobody would have gotten any good sleep,” Harmon said. “It would have made the week a little bit harder because you would’ve just been trying to catch up on sleep since you weren’t able to sleep after the game.”
The trip also helps them remain acclimated to the altitude — a smooth transition from the 6,000 feet in Colorado Springs to the 7,300 feet in Mexico City, without coming back to virtual sea level in the Boston area.
The trip also gives the players a chance to bond that they don’t usually get on the NFL’s up-and-back, one-night road trips.
“It draws the team closer,” Van Noy said. “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.”