Entering his team’s Week 13 matchup against the Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones had averaged 31.8 pass attempts per game. Coming out of the 14-10 victory on Monday night, that number has now dropped to 29.5.
How come? The Patriots asked Jones to throw the ball only three times all day against the Bills.
His limited output had little to do with the rookie passer himself, and more with the environment. Playing the game in windy conditions, the Patriots relied on their run game to get the job done. It did, finishing with 230 yards on 44 non-kneel-down attempts.
As a result, Jones’ day consisted mostly of handing the ball off — something he was not unhappy about.
“I’m just trying to win,” he said during his postgame press conference. “It was good that we scored more than the other team, and we did a great job on offense. Josh was just staying calm, and he was calling he plays that he knew that would work. It took all 11 guys. It doesn’t matter how many times you run it or throw it, as long as you win everyone’s going to be happy.”
Behind a stellar running game and strong defensive outing, the Patriots were able to upset their division rivals on the road. They did so in historically conservative fashion: the last time a team attempted this small a number of passes in a game came in 1974. In general there have been only three games during the Super Bowl era with three or fewer passes thrown.
On the day, Jones went 2-for-3 for 19 yards: he completed a 12-yard throw to Jonnu Smith in the first quarter, and a 7-yarder to Brandon Bolden in the fourth. In between, he also had an incompletion intended for Nelson Agholor.
“We run the plays that are called,” the young quarterback said after the game.
“We have a game plan and obviously that changes a little bit with the elements, but at the end of the day I think we had the looks that we were looking forward to to run the ball, and we just kept doing it. The offensive line created the holes, and those guys did some tough running, not even mentioning the receivers getting in there to block, too. Everyone played a role and it was just great to watch and see everyone have the effort.”