By JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Bills rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White says he’s willing to forgive and forget Rob Gronkowski for blindsiding him in the back of the head during Buffalo’s loss to New England earlier this month.
And by forgetting, White apparently means, choosing not to remember some of the accusations he made against the Patriots tight end, such as suggesting a man wouldn’t have done that.
“Nah. You got that twisted up,” White said Wednesday, when first reminded of his past comments as the Bills (8-6) prepare for a rematch at New England (11-3) on Sunday. “I didn’t say that.”
Actually, White did say that on Dec. 7 , once he was cleared from the NFL’s concussion protocol four days after a 23-3 loss. He also called Gronkowski a “dirty player,” and referred to the NFL issuing the tight end a one-game suspension as being “a joke.”
White intercepted Tom Brady’s pass and had already been touched down along the Patriots sideline, when Gronkowski led with his forearm and struck him in the back of the helmet.
Now that he’s had time to reflect, White eventually acknowledged his initial reaction to Gronkowski’s hit as being “childish.”
“It wasn’t the way it should’ve been handled,” White said.
“Yeah, I can forgive and forget,” he added. “I got over it. And I’m passed it.”
The only form of payback White now seeks is helping the Bills beat their AFC East rival to continue Buffalo’s late-season push to end a 17-season playoff drought — the longest active drought in North America’s four major professional sports.
This is no time, White said, for him or anyone else to exact any form of retribution.
“If we go out there and try to do anything selfish or anything to hurt the team, we could cost ourselves a playoff spot or cost us one of our main players by going out there and doing something stupid,” he said. “We’re going to put that on the backburner and just focus on winning.”
The Bills aren’t guaranteed clinching a playoff berth even if they win their final two games, including closing the season at Miami on Dec. 31.
White is following coach Sean McDermott’s lead in looking forward, not back.
“Any time we spend discussing that situation is wasted time, and getting in our way of becoming a better football team,” McDermott said.
Gronkowski apologized for the hit on White following the game by saying it happened out of frustration. Gronkowski said he was upset in believing White interfered with him on the play.
White, Buffalo’s first-round pick out of LSU, has made a habit of getting under the skin of opposing receivers with a physical approach despite his 5-foot-11, 192-pound frame.
He’s tied among rookies with four interceptions and credited with an NFL-leading 18 passes defensed while also ranking second on the team, behind linebacker Preston Brown, in playing 956 snaps this season.
“He still has a lot of room to grow. He’s still young,” McDermott said. “That said, I think he’s as good as anyone out there from a rookie standpoint.”
White is part of a completely retooled secondary, rounded out by safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer (both offseason free-agent additions) and cornerback E.J. Gaines, who was acquired in a trade that sent receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams in August.
It’s a group that almost instantly jelled in allowing an NFL-low 11 touchdowns passing, including keeping Patriots quarterback Tom Brady from throwing a touchdown pass.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick credited the Bills secondary for its ability to disguise formations to keep opposing quarterbacks guessing even after the ball is snapped.
“It’s impressive how disciplined and how well-coached, how well-coordinated, how much poise they have to hold some of those disguises even though they’re technically out of position,” Belichick said. “But they’re able to get into position right at the last second before the offense can do anything about it.”
McDermott found little consolation in his defense containing Brady.
“We’re not here for moral victories,” he said. “We did some good things. But we’re here to win the game.”
NOTES: S Colt Anderson returned to practice for the first time since being placed on injured reserve on Oct. 3 after breaking his forearm. He is eligible to be activated. … Gaines did not practice and listed day to day after hurting his left knee against Miami on Sunday.
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