FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — On Buffalo’s first drive during its game against the Patriots on Dec. 3, Tyrod Taylor efficiently marched his team deep into the red zone.

The drive lasted 13 plays and took 7:09 off the clock, but it came to an abrupt halt when Patriots defensive end Eric Lee made an interception inside the 5.

A similar sequence – other than the turnover, of course – to open Sunday’s game at Gillette Stadium would be an ideal scenario for the Bills, who at 8-6 are hanging on to the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC.

With the way Buffalo’s offense is structured, especially with Taylor under center, a shootout against the Patriots means almost certain defeat. Shortening the game with time-consuming drives not only plays into the Bills’ strengths, but Taylor’s.

So it behooves the Patriots to pin the Bills beneath an early deficit and force Taylor out of his comfort zone.

“When you get up a couple scores or a score, it really puts the pressure on offenses to make them want to score,” Patriots safety Duron Harmon said.

“We try to play like that each and every week. This week it won’t be no different, just going out there, trying to start fast, make a good stop, try and get the ball to our offense.”

Taylor, now in his third season as a starter, has had outside speedsters Sammy Watkins and Chris Hogan leave via trade and free agency, respectively. In some respects, then, Taylor’s inability to push the ball downfield and challenge teams vertically isn’t necessarily of his doing.

But what has remained consistent throughout his days as a starter is that Taylor is not a gunslinger. In many ways, Taylor has the same reputation as Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith for always wanting to play it safe. The difference, of course, is that Smith has weapons like wide receiver Tyreek Hill who can leave just about any defender in the dust for a big play.

The Bills aren’t built that way, but if they are able to play with a lead, Taylor’s approach becomes a strength. And facing a Patriots defense that allowed the Pittsburgh Steelers to convert 10 of 16 third-downs situations last Sunday, Taylor’s penchant for patience can be dangerous.

He did direct Buffalo to a 16-0 win over the Patriots in Foxborough last season, albeit over a squad led by injured third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett. But Taylor was in complete control, going 27 of 39 for 246 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions.

His longest completion? A 23-yarder to Robert Woods. Taylor never needed to step outside of his comfort zone, and an early deficit is the best way to take him out of it.

On Sunday, the Patriots will be mindful of the early game success they had in Buffalo a few weeks ago. If they do it again, the result should not be much different.

“I mean, you can do so much more when you have the lead,” Harmon said.