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Unsung heroes from the Patriots’ Week 16 loss to the Bills

Related: 1 winner and 5 losers from the Patriots’ loss to the Bills

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images

The New England Patriots continued their losing ways on Monday, falling to 6-9 on the season by way of a 38-9 loss to the Buffalo Bills. In what was billed as a “pride” game for the team by the Monday Night Football crew, Bill Belichick and company showed none, and continued to limp slowly to the finish line of a dreadful season.

Monday followed the same script as week 15’s encounter with the Miami Dolphins. Come up short on offense, get beaten into submission on defense, and leave the game somehow more banged up than you were heading into it.

As always we’re here to find positives and that’s just what we’ll do, only this week we’re doing it in a different way. We’re going to take a look at the two players who set the tone for the teams only successful unit, the rushing attack.

The Players

RB Sony Michel and LG Joe Thuney

This one’s a package deal.

Say what you will about Sony Michel’s issues staying on the field throughout his career and his limited production in 2019. Those are valid gripes with a former first round pick. What you can’t say is that he hasn’t looked like a first rounder over the last two weeks. Not only is he running as hard as we’ve ever seen him run but he’s been more decisive, elusive, and angry than ever.

Thuney on the other hand just continues to prove that he’s one of the best guards in the NFL. He’ll be looking to get paid this offseason and at this point, I think it might be worth a shot for the Patriots to throw some money at him. He’s been the one consistent piece on the offensive line this season and done it at multiple positions. I don’t know if it’s worth the risk of allowing your best lineman to hit the road.

Both men played great and helped each other out on some big plays.

Thuney: It takes incredible athleticism for a guard to meet a middle linebacker at the second level and seal off the edge on a toss crack. To beat said linebacker to the spot so quickly that you then have to flip your hips and pin him when he tries to undercut the path, is next level lineman stuff. Joe Thuney does these things on a weekly basis and that’s what makes him one of the best.

Michel: Remember when I said Sony Michel was being more decisive? This is what I was talking about. Instead of slowing himself down behind the line and waiting for the lineman to make their blocks, he sticks his foot in the ground and gets up field, trusting the timing of the offensive lineman and then making a man miss at the second level. These just aren’t things that we’re used to seeing out of him.

Here’s a comparison from that run to a similar play last season. Night and day.

They both came back later and had another strong performance where they set eachother up for success.

Thuney: His responsibility was the same here as the first run, this time he just straight up bullies Tremaine Edmunds with one arm and pushes him about 25 yards around the field. The only thing stopping him from throwing Edmunds out of the club was Jerry Hughes bouncing off Michel into his ankles.

Michel: He showed off the decisiveness on the first run, and here’s that angry mentality and elusiveness I mentioned on another. He’s able to avoid the traffic behind the line of scrimmage and then has 260lb Jerry Hughes bounce right off him like it’s nothing. Since the switch to Harris as the lead back we’ve seen a new Sony Michel.

Overall it seems like that’s all we’ve got for the unsung heroes. Two guys who played extremely well. We could have included Jake Bailey but it’s monotonous at this point, his praises have been sung plenty.

The fact of the matter is, the only positive out of this week was the Patriots ground game, which seems to be set for the next few seasons.