FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots staged a vintage comeback Sunday to upset the heavily favored Buffalo Bills 29-25 at Gillette Stadium.

Seven takeaways from the scintillating Week 7 result:

1. Mac Jones finally has his signature win
And boy, did he need it. Two weeks removed from his back-to-back mid-blowout benchings, Jones led a last-minute touchdown drive that gave the Patriots their best victory in years. The third-year quarterback went 25-for-30 for 272 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers in the win, with just two incompletions after halftime and a 126.7 passer rating that was the third-best of his career.

On the game-winning drive, Jones went 7-for-8 for 70 yards, including a red-zone completion to Demario Douglas that was negated by a defensive penalty (more on that below).

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The comeback snapped a number of ignominious streaks — first fourth-quarter comeback since October 2021; first win of Jones’ tenure when the opponent scored 25-plus points; first win in over a year against an opposing QB who wasn’t a either backup or Zach Wilson — and it had to engender confidence in Jones within the Patriots locker room.

2. Moving Mike Onwenu to right tackle was long overdue
Folks had been saying for over a year that the Patriots should play Onwenu, their best offensive lineman, at right tackle. Bill Belichick always resisted, publicly stating the team preferred to keep him at his natural position of right guard, even while it cycled through a parade of uninspiring options outside.

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Belichick finally relented Sunday, moving Onwenu to right tackle and playing rookie Sidy Sow at right guard, and the result was New England’s finest O-line performance of the season. Jones, who was sacked just once and hit four times, singled out that unit after the game, as did Belichick.

“The offensive line, especially, just gave me the time I needed today,” Jones said.

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Onwenu hadn’t played a snap at right tackle since 2021 before Sunday, and he didn’t take one at any position in the Patriots’ previous two games as he nursed a lingering ankle issue. He was able to go wire to wire against Buffalo, though, and barring any setbacks, the Patriots have no season to remove him from that spot this Sunday against Miami.

Getting an effective Cole Strange back at left guard also was a great help. Strange missed the previous three games and has been slowed by a knee injury since the summer.

3. Demario Douglas deserves a starring role in the Patriots’ offense
Play Pop. Play. Pop.

Douglas became the Patriots’ top slot receiver Sunday with JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion) sidelined, and he delivered a stellar all-around performance that should solidify him as a pillar of New England’s passing game.

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The sixth-round rookie caught four passes on six targets for 54 yards, gained 20 yards on a jet sweep, ripped off a 25-yard punt return and drew two defensive penalties, including one at the 1-yard line that set up Gesicki’s game-winning score. Douglas and Kendrick Bourne (seven targets, six catches, 63 targets, one touchdown) are the Patriots’ two best playmakers at the receiver position, and it isn’t especially close, though Bourne nearly lost the game for New England with a fourth-quarter fumble.

It would be game-planning malpractice for the Patriots to put Smith-Schuster back above Douglas on the depth chart when the former is ready enough to return.

In that same vein, it’ll be interesting to see how New England utilizes both DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton moving forward. Both spent much of Sunday’s game on the sidelines, with Parker’s lone catch coming on the Patriots’ final drive. Parker played a season-low 58% of snaps, and Thornton played just three total. They combined for two catches on two targets for 10 yards.

Parker has only 7 more receiving yards this season than third-string tight end Pharaoh Brown (5-137-1), who continued his emergence as a surprise big-play threat Sunday with catches of 26 and 25 yards.

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4. For once, Stefon Diggs “wasn’t a problem”
That’s what cornerback Jack Jones said postgame about the Bills’ star wide receiver. And outside of one 25-yard fourth-quarter touchdown, he was right.

Diggs, who’s routinely tormented the Patriots since he arrived in Buffalo in 2020, saw 12 targets on Sunday and finished with just 58 yards on six receptions, plus the one score. That’s 40 yards less than he averaged across his previous six Patriots matchups.

Josh Allen tried a half-dozen times to hit Diggs on deep balls and found little success. J.C. Jackson — one of Diggs’ primary victims in the past — made one of the plays of the game for New England when he outmuscled the wideout in the end zone to break up a fourth-quarter Allen heave.

“When you’re banging him and he don’t get the ball early, he kind of gets out of it a little bit,” safety Jabrill Peppers said of Diggs, who entered Week 7 as the league’s third-most-targeted pass-catcher. “… We take him away and make those other guys beat us, we liked our chances.”

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It would have been fun to see how Patriots rookie Christian Gonzalez fared against Diggs had he been healthy. But even without the impressive first-rounder, New England’s cornerback group is in solid shape with Jackson aboard and Jack and Jonathan Jones both back from injuries.

The Patriots rotated more at safety than they did in previous games, with Jalen Mills, Adrian Phillips and Marte Mapu seeing playing-time increases. Peppers forced his second turnover in as many games when he intercepted an ill-advised Allen pass on Buffalo’s first offensive snap.

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5. The Patriots’ front seven stepped up
Like Diggs, Allen has given the Patriots problems for years. How would they fare against the QB without the services of three of their top edge rushers (Matthew Judon, Josh Uche and Keion White)?

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Answer: surprisingly well. After struggling to rush the passer in the previous two games, New England was able to generate consistent pressure on Allen despite its personnel deficiency, with Christian Barmore and Deatrich Wise spearheading that effort. Barmore, in particular, was a menace for the second consecutive week. The 2021 second-rounder is playing some of the best football of his career.

That pass rush aided in the aforementioned Diggs defense, as Allen sailed several passes while being chased out of the pocket. He also didn’t hurt the Patriots much with his legs, finishing with 17 yards on seven carries.

The Patriots’ performance against the run was stout overall, with Buffalo finding little success on the ground outside of one 20-yard James Cook carry. The Bills averaged less than 2.7 yards per carry on their 23 other attempts. Anfernee Jennings, who’s putting together a career season after opening it as a healthy scratch, played a key role in that success.

New England’s stout defense on early downs repeatedly put Allen and company in unfavorable down-and-distance situations. Buffalo, which also hurt itself with penalties, didn’t face a third down shorter than 5 yards until the final three minutes of the fourth quarter.

One area the Patriots’ defense needs to clean up, though, is tackling. Peppers, Jackson, Jack Jones, Kyle Dugger and Ja’Whaun Bentley all had costly misses, and Bentley, Phillips and Myles Bryant whiffed on would-be sacks.

6. Judon still brought the juice
Though he wasn’t in uniform, it was impossible to miss the Patriots’ defensive MVP during this game. He was animated on the sideline throughout, celebrating big plays and dishing out coaching points to fellow defenders.

Judon also didn’t look hindered by his recent bicep surgery when he was playing catch pregame. Actually playing in an NFL game obviously is a giant step up from what he did Sunday, but the reports about him hoping to return before the end of the season don’t seem so far-fetched.

7. The rookie specialists balled out
“Promising but erratic” is a good way to describe how Chad Ryland and Bryce Baringer performed over the first six weeks of the season. That’s the bargain you make when you roll with unproven rookies at kicker and punter. Growing pains are inevitable.

Inconsistency wasn’t an issue for either Sunday, however. Both were excellent, with Ryland going 3-for-3 on field goals and 2-for-2 on extra points and Baringer delivering a pair of textbook punts.

One scraped the stratosphere as it rocketed 64 yards downfield (with Brenden Schooler dropping the returner after a modest 7-yard return) and the other landed out of bounds just outside the Buffalo end zone. The Bill’s starting field position following Baringer’s two boots: their own 13 and their own 3.

Add in Douglas’ big-play punt return, and this was a much-needed bounce-back effort by New England’s special teams, even with a false start on Schooler and a substitution error that forced Belichick to burn a timeout. Schooler also had a fumble recovery on defense in a Hail Mary situation to ice the game.

Featured image via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images