The New England Patriots did not stand a chance against the Buffalo Bills on Monday night, getting blown out 38-9 en route to their ninth defeat of the season. While the loss itself did not change the Patriots’ playoff outlook — the team was already eliminated from participating in the tournament last week — it was still a costly one: a total of seven players suffered injuries along the way, including three veteran starters.
With that said, let’s take a look at the Patriots’ injury situation after their loss to the Bills.
LB Terez Hall: After making a tackle on a 3-yard run halfway through the second quarter, Terez Hall left the field never to be seen again. He did not suffer an apparent injury on the play, but nevertheless was eventually listed by the team as questionable to return because of an ankle ailment. Hall never actually came back to the game, though, and also was not seen on the sidelines for the remainder of the contest.
LB Tashawn Bower: The same drive that saw Hall exit the game also ended up being the last for Tashawn Bower. The edge linebacker apparently hurt his neck at one point during the series, even though he was on the field until a touchdown pass to Lee Smith ended it. Like Hall, Bower left the field and was first ruled as questionable. He later was declared out for the rest of the night.
LB Josh Uche: The third linebacker to go down with an injury was Josh Uche. The rookie went to the sidelines after a pass play in the late second quarter — he was in on a gang tackle on Stefon Diggs — and later had his leg checked out on the bench by New England’s medical staff. Uche was later listed as questionable with a foot issue, but did not return to the field and also was not spotted on the sidelines in the second half.
S Devin McCourty: After delivering a hit against Bills tight end Dawson Knox midway through the second period, McCourty was spotted favoring his right shoulder. The team captain, who was not listed on the injury report heading into the contest, remained in the game for the remainder of the quarter — 13 total plays, including the Bills’ kneel-down to end the half — but was not on the field after intermission. The Patriots first announced him as questionable to return because of a shoulder issue before ruling him out for good a short time later.
G Shaq Mason: Mason already entered the game dealing with a calf injury that limited him in practice, and against the Bills also added a foot ailment. There was no obvious moment the Patriots’ starting right guard did suffer the injury, as he looked to move no different than usual leading up to and during his his final play (an incomplete third down pass late in the second quarter). When New England’s offense was on the field again the next time, after halftime, Mason was nowhere to be found. He was later immediately ruled out.
C David Andrews: The Patriots’ final two offensive drives had to take place without starting center David Andrews on the field. The team captain, who was limited in practice all week because of a calf issue, was pulled from the contest due to the exact same injury. His final play came with 6:40 remaining in the third quarter and did not see him suffer any obvious injury despite later being listed as questionable to return.
LB Anfernee Jennings: Late in the fourth quarter, New England lost yet another linebacker. Anfernee Jennings walked off the field with trainers after suffering what appeared to be an ankle injury on a run play: the rookie got rolled up when chasing the play and unable to continue the game. The Patriots did not announce an injury status considering how late in the game he was hurt, but Jennings also joined those who ended the game sidelined.
What this means for the Patriots
The game against Buffalo was a tough one given how many players were lost to injury. While not all of those ailments may have been of the major variety — only Uche and Jennings received immediate medical attention after their injuries — they are worth keeping an eye on with only one more game left in the season. Accordingly, it would not be a surprise if the Patriots played it safe with most if not all of the players named above.
The biggest names among those are obviously McCourty, Andrews and Mason given their roles as veteran leaders and starters at their respective positions. New England is undoubtably a better team with the three men in the lineup, which could alter the team’s outlook heading into its regular season final versus the New York Jets on just five days of rest.
Of course, New England’s linebacker depth also is a concern: the Patriots lost four players at the position due to injury — all while already deactivating Ja’Whaun Bentley (shoulder) and Shilique Calhoun (knee) before the game.
The linebacker position has been a challenge all year after the offseason departures of Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts as well as Dont’a Hightower’s Covid-19 opt-out. The recent run of injuries therefore presents just the latest challenge, but one that could force the team to make a roster move ahead of the Week 17 contest versus the Jets.
That all depends on the postgame development of Uche, Jennings, Hall and Bower, of course. At the moment, however, Chase Winovich is the only fully healthy linebacker left on the active roster considering that John Simon was also dealing with a hamstring issue heading into the game against Buffalo. The team also has three players at the position on its practice squad: Cassh Maluia, who played eight defensive snaps on Monday, as well as Jack Cichy and Rashod Berry.
The Patriots will release their first injury report of the week on Wednesday. The list should give us more clarity about New England’s health situation with the season nearing its end.