Three Studs, Three Duds From Patriots’ Monday Night Victory Over Bills

Running backs up, N'Keal Harry down


December 6, 2021

Despite Mac Jones attempting just three passes, the New England Patriots on Monday earned a 14-10 win over the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. They now have won seven games in a row and bolstered their leads atop both the AFC East and the conference as a whole.

With high winds erasing any semblance of a normal football game, Jones completed two of his three pass attempts for 19 yards. Bills quarterback Josh Allen went 15-for-30 for 145 yards and a touchdown.

Patriots kicker Nick Folk was successful on his two field-goal attempts, and safety/corner hybrid Myles Bryant came up with a key fourth-down pass breakup in the red zone on Buffalo’s final offensive possession.

New England improved to 9-4 with the victory, while Buffalo dropped to 7-5 with the loss.

Each week, we’ll give you three studs and three duds for the Patriots, no matter how hard it might be to fill either category.

Here’s the Week 13 edition:

Patriots running backs
Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris were absolutely sensational. Harris racked up 111 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown, on 10 carries before exiting with a hamstring injury, while Stevenson added 78 yards on 24 carries, but ran far better than the numbers indicate. This continues to be one of the best running back tandems in the NFL.

Offensive line
New England decided to play bully ball all night, and the offensive line delivered. The group, with Mike Onwenu often serving as an extra lineman, imposed its will from start to finish and wore out the Bills’ front seven by the end of the game. It was an impressive performance following last week’s dud against the Tennessee Titans.

Defensive line
This was a back-bounce game for a unit that got gashed by the Titans in Week 12. The Bills managed just 99 yards on the ground, with Allen leading the way with 39. Devin Singletary added 36 yards.

Honorable mentions: Nick Folk; Adrian Phillips

Everyone responsible for N’Keal Harry fumble
Harry, who never had returned a punt during his NFL career, was sent out to receive one during the first quarter and promptly misplayed it, allowing it to bounce off his facemask. The Bills recovered the ball and scored a touchdown shortly thereafter.

Harry deserves blame for going anywhere near the ball, but so, too, do Patriots coaches, who had no good reason to send Harry out there.

Jonnu Smith, TE
We’re nitpicking, but Smith’s holding penalty in the second quarter negated what would’ve been a big first-down run by Stevenson. You could argue Stevenson never would have broken free without the hold, but Smith absolutely could’ve done a better job of blocking.

Offensive playcalling
It made for some neat stats, but New England’s total commitment to the running game was excessive and borderline unnecessary at times. There were opportunities to be aggressive while avoiding serious risk, and the Patriots time and time again opted to avoid passing the ball.

Honorable mentions: Dont’a Hightower

Thumbnail photo via Mark Konezny/USA TODAY Sports Images
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