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Patriots vs. Bills rookie review: Mac Jones did more than just hand off the ball on Monday night

Related: Patriots vs. Bills snap count report: New England deploys jumbo package in 14-10 win

NFL: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots faced their biggest challenge of the season on Monday night, but they were able to come away victoriously for the seventh straight week: New England beat the Buffalo Bills 14-10 on the road, in a game that saw the team’s rookies have different levels of involvement.

Let’s take a look at how they fared — starting, of course, with Mac Jones.

QB Mac Jones

  • Offensive snaps: 51 of 51 (100%)
  • Special teams snaps: N/A

Mac Jones was on the field for all 51 of the Patriots’ offensive snaps against the Bills. However, after averaging 31.8 pass attempts over his first 12 games of the year, he attempted only three passes all game long: New England successfully ran the ball against Buffalo’s defense, asking its QB to drop back just three times in windy conditions.

His first attempt of the day came in the first quarter, when he threw a 12-yard pass to Jonnu Smith; the ball was high but still reeled in spectacularly by the tight end. After no passes were called in the second and third periods, the first-round pick threw two of them on consecutive plays in the fourth: the first was an incompletion intended for Nelson Agholor, the second a 7-yard screen pass to Brandon Bolden.

All in all, Jones finished 2-for-3 for 19 yards. But while his day consisted mostly of handing off the ball, he did more than just that: as Brandon Bolden said after the game, Jones was also doing “a better job taking control of the huddle when he had to.”

The stat-sheet does neither reflect this nor his contributions making pre-snap calls, obviously. However, Bolden’s statement reflects that Jones was more than just the person distributing the ball to the various running backs; he continued to be the leader of the offense even if the game plan called for him played a more passive role.

RB Rhamondre Stevenson

  • Offensive snaps: 31 of 58 (63%)
  • Special teams snaps: N/A

The Patriots’ fourth-round selection saw considerable action on Monday. In fact, Stevenson received his highest playing time share of the year: he was on the field for 63 percent of New England’s offensive snaps, finishing as the team’s leading ball-carrier.

In total, he carried the football 24 times for 78 yards. While his 3.3-yard average per attempt is nothing to write home about, Stevenson played a valuable role against Buffalo. He did have the occasional bigger gain — three of his rushes earned 10-plus yards — and allowed the Patriots to stick with their game plan even after Damien Harris left the contest due to a hamstring issue.

DT Christian Barmore

  • Defensive snaps: 25 of 63 (43%)
  • Special teams snaps: 3 of 23 (13%)

With the Patriots placing an emphasis on stopping the run against Buffalo’s high-flying offense, Christian Barmore saw comparatively limited action on Monday: serving as the number three along the interior defensive line behind Davon Godchaux and Lawrence Guy, the second-round pick played 25 of 63 defensive snaps — his lowest playing-time share of the season.

With the Bills taking to the air a bit more in the second half of the game, however, the Alabama product did see increased opportunities as a pass-rusher and pocket-pusher down the stretch. He eventually finished the contest with a quarterback hit as well as one assisted tackle in the running game.

CB Shaun Wade

  • Inactive

After appearing in back-to-back games — the first two of his NFL career — Shaun Wade was declared inactive versus the Bills. Given that the fifth-round selection was not among the eight players listed on the injury report heading into Monday, he was a healthy scratch. With Kyle Dugger on the Covid-19 list and the safety position therefore becoming a priority, he was scratched in favor of practice squad elevatee Sean Davis.

LB Ronnie Perkins

  • Inactive

The 96th selection in this year’s draft will have to wait yet another week for his NFL debut, and it seems unlikely that his status will change anytime soon. After missing the early parts of the regular season due to a shoulder injury and later struggling with an ankle issue, Ronnie Perkins was again declared inactive in Week 13. He was ruled out due to an illness, but even if healthy would likely not have made the game-day roster.