What Hunter Henry Told Mac Jones In Final Seconds Of Patriots’ Playoff Loss

'The biggest thing from this is how we grow'


As time wound down in the New England Patriots’ blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills, Mac Jones exchanged handshakes and hugs with many of his offensive teammates. Most of these greetings were brief — quick acknowledgments as a long season came to a close.

But when Jones reached Hunter Henry, the tight end pulled him aside, speaking into the rookie quarterback’s ear as misty breath swirled around them. Jones nodded throughout this 20-second exchange, which was seen but not heard on the CBS game broadcast.

Moments later, three Mitchell Trubisky kneeldowns finished off a 47-17 Bills victory that sent Buffalo to the divisional round and ended the Patriots’ brief playoff run.

Two days later, in an end-of-season video conference, Henry was asked if he’d be willing to reveal any details about his sideline conversation with Jones.

“I think the biggest thing is I’m just trying to — it’s a long season, man, and I’m really proud of Mac,” Henry said. “I’m proud of how he handled it. We didn’t play like we wanted to (Saturday) night. We honestly didn’t play well down the stretch, like we wanted to. But the biggest thing from this is how we grow, how we learn from this. Obviously, we got a lot better throughout the year, and I think I’m excited to grow with him this offseason — grow together in our relationship, grow together in our chemistry.

“I’m excited to have him as my quarterback, and (I was) just reaffirming to him that this is a big moment and something that we’re going to learn from and grow from and continue to get better. That’s the biggest thing: improvement. He’s got 18 games, (with) preseason, 20 games behind his belt now, and you can’t take that lightly, so that’s huge for him.”

After taking limited reps together during the preseason while the former battled a shoulder injury and the latter competed with Cam Newton for the starting quarterback job, Henry blossomed into Jones’ top red-zone target, leading the Patriots and tying for the NFL lead among tight ends with nine touchdown receptions. Henry and Jones also developed a strong bond off the field as friends and neighbors.

Jones wouldn’t divulge specifics about Henry’s in-game message but said the veteran “obviously gave me great words of advice.”

“He’s a guy that’s played quite some time in the NFL, and I’m really happy to have him,” Jones told reporters in his postgame news conference Saturday. “I’m glad to have him, hopefully, for a while. He’s a great player, and he’s a great person, too. He means a lot to me. He’s like a big brother, just like a lot of guys on this team are to me.”

Henry has two years remaining on the $37.5 million contract he signed last spring, so that QB/tight end connection should continue to grow in 2022.

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