The New England Patriots came into Orchard Park and defeated the Buffalo Bills on Monday night, winning 14-10 in a game that was heavily impacted by the weather. Swirling winds grounded both teams’ passing attacks, but the Patriots persevered as they have so many times in head coach Bill Belichick’s tenure.
Here’s how our opponents to watch performed on the national stage.
QB Mac Jones
“Jones is an elite handoff specialist.”—Some pundit, probably.
In all seriousness, the Patriots had a plan and they stuck to it, daring Buffalo to make them change it. The Bills didn’t, and New England won the game. Jones threw three passes, completing two of them for a total of 19 yards.
RB Rhamondre Stevenson
New England’s top two rushers swapped roles this week, as the usual workhorse (Damien Harris) broke the game’s big play, a 64-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and their normal big-play guy became the workhorse. Granted, Stevenson saw so many carries because Harris injured his hamstring towards the end of the first half, but it was still a strong effort in a contest where everyone knew exactly what the Patriots were going to do, yet the Bills still couldn’t stop it consistently enough to matter. Harris even managed a 22-yard rush in the third quarter when it was clear that he was operating with a damaged hamstring. Stevenson rushed 24 times for 78 yards.
WR Kendrick Bourne
Bourne wasn’t one of the three players Mac Jones targeted, so he spent most of his evening blocking.
EDGE Matthew Judon
Part of New England’s plan was to keep quarterback Josh Allen in the pocket, limiting the damage he could do on improvisational runs and throws on the run. Consider that a success, as Judon and Kyle Van Noy were able to keep Allen contained on a blustery evening. Judon sacked Allen once, and he absolutely leveled Allen a second time when the offensive line just turned the guy with 12.5 sacks loose off left tackle. Judon had three tackles on the night in total.
CB J.C. Jackson
Jackson had a pick-six come right at him, as he jumped a quick hitch to Stefon Diggs, but he was only able to bat the pass away with one hand. When Allen made a “gold rip” call in the first quarter, Jackson proved that he reads Dan Lavoie’s work, snuffing out the wide receiver screen and dumping Emmanuel Sanders for a loss (side note: If we know what the audibles are, wouldn’t you think that someone would assume the greatest head coach in the history of the game might know what they are, too?). Jackson finished with two tackles.