FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots fans have waited two years to see the James White who showed up Monday night against the Buffalo Bills. James White hasn’t been waiting for this particular showing, though.
It took White 26 total NFL games — active or not — to score a touchdown, and he wound up with two in the Patriots’ 20-13 win. He had 46 yards on four touches as the Patriots’ main third-down back, and he was one of the few New England offensive playmakers who stepped up and stayed healthy throughout the game. Still, this isn’t the performance he has been waiting two years to show the world.
“I wouldn’t say that,” White said. “When the ball is in my hands, I’m going to try to make a play, and if I have to block, I’m going to try and do that. Whatever happens, happens.”
The 2014 fourth-round draft pick was the favorite to receive third-down duties this season after the Patriots allowed Shane Vereen to walk in free agency, but Dion Lewis captured the role out of training camp. Lewis tore his ACL in Week 9, ending his season, and now White has been forced to step up.
“Guys are going to go down, so people have to be ready, whatever the situation is,” White said. “It’s unfortunate, but that’s just how it goes in this league sometimes. People just have to step up.”
White didn’t receive many touches in his breakout performance, but he accounted for the Patriots’ only two touchdowns, and they should have confidence in their third-down back moving forward. White proved he could make plays, and he showed power on his touchdown catch that he hasn’t previously displayed in the NFL. He doesn’t have Lewis’ ability to make a first defender miss, but he should be a steady performer from week to week.
“He made a nice play on the touchdown run, broke (Corey) Graham’s tackle there on the 10-yard line, 8-yard line, whatever it was,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “But James has been a dependable player for us. He came through with a couple big plays last week against the Giants and had them today.
“We need everybody every week, and he made some plays for us today. Again, overall I’m sure everybody feels like we could have done a better job. I don’t think anybody was perfect out there.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images