CINCINNATI — It seems overkill to call Sunday N’Keal Harry’s coming out party. But it sure felt like it after the 2019 first-round pick received just two snaps in the New England Patriots’ previous contest.
Harry caught two passes for 15 yards with a touchdown — the second of his career — in the Patriots’ 34-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. He also ran the ball twice for 22 yards and was flagged for offensive pass interference. Harry had a diving catch called back due to a penalty and made a tackle on an interception that also was called back by a penalty.
All of that is to say Harry made many more plays Sunday than he registered snaps in Week 14. Harry was on the field for 40 total snaps, and he was a focal point in the offense early in the win.
“It was good,” Harry said. “Just getting out there just starting to get my groove back out there, so it felt good.”
Harry missed the first half of his rookie season on injured reserve. This was the fifth game of his NFL career.
Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman saw Harry starting to “play faster” on the field.
“Knowing what to do, being confident with going into a test, knowing all of the little things so you can let your athleticism coming into play,” Edelman said. “I would say that’s playing fast.”
Harry’s touchdown catch came on a scramble drill by quarterback Tom Brady. Patriots wide receivers have struggled a bit recently with adjusting the way Brady wants after an initial play breaks down. Harry did a good job reading Brady’s mind on the third-quarter score.
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“On those types of plays, you just have to find a way to get open, whatever it takes,” Harry said. “Glad I could that.”
Brady clearly was happy with the quick thinking.
“It was a good play by him,” Brady said. “He adjusted. Kind of a little bit — (I) held it in pocket. So, he adjusted his route and then came back and found some space. It was a good play. We needed it.”
Brady later said, “It’s fun to see him make those plays.”
Harry was a bright spot in an otherwise sputtering passing attack. Brady went just 15-of-29 for 128 yards with two touchdowns. Running back James White led the team with 49 receiving yards and a touchdown on three catches. Wideout Julian Edelman caught just two passes on five targets for 9 yards while fighting through knee and shoulder injuries.
“It felt good to get out there and just help the team contribute, to be a factor in getting the win,” Harry said.
The Patriots’ offense as a whole did show some promise Sunday. They carried the ball 32 times for 175 yards with a touchdown. Patriots 2018 first-round pick Sony Michel led the way with 19 carries for 89 yards while Rex Burkhead scored on a 33-yard touchdown.