Winner: Rookie Runners. With Damien Harris (thigh) inactive and Rhamondre Stevenson (ankle) injured in the first quarter, the Patriots were forced to rely on rookies Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris. As the two entered the week playing a combined 23 offensive snaps, nobody knew what to expect. But, the two impressed as they combined for 96 yards on the ground on 13 carries - Strong added an additional two receptions for 20 yards. Both also found the end zone for the first time in their career, as Harris showcased his power and Strong’s speed was on display throughout the night. Getting performances like this from the duo down the stretch would certainly help New England’s offense.
Winner: LB Josh Uche. It was another strong showing from New England’s pass rusher. Uche’s big sequence came in the third quarter in a one score game. After fighting through a hold to record a sack, Uche was in McCoy’s lap the very next play forcing an errant pass which was intercepted. He later recorded two more sacks in clean up duty, upping his total to 10 total sacks in the last seven week (six games) - the most in the NFL.
Loser: OT Trent Brown and the Offensive Line. Entering the week with a banged up offensive line against a blitz-happy defense, the Patriots’ offensive line was a major focus point on this game. Despite Jones only being sacked once, he was under heavy pressure which likely had a large hand in the screen-happy game plan (5.0 aDoT). Brown, who’s been battling an illness, was specifically bad in this one. He gave up the lone sack and was beaten badly multiple times in the run game. The left tackle was also flagged for a false start.
Winner: WR/CB/KR Marcus Jones. If it seemed like Marcus Jones was around the football every time you looked up, its likely because he was. Jones again appeared at wide receiver for the second straight week, hauling in a screen for 12 yards - throwing a vicious stiff arm in the process. He also manned the boundary cornerback throughout the night after Jack Jones left with an injury, and secured the third quarter interception. He also manning his usual duties in the return game. It was an impressive night from the rookie Swiss-army knife.
Marcus Jones is the first player in the Super Bowl Era with at least— NFL on CBS (@NFLonCBS) December 13, 2022
10 receiving yards
2 passes defended
in the same game pic.twitter.com/UgFosBPkFn
Loser: WR Nelson Agholor. Down top receiver Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor was thrusted into an expanded role Monday night. He led the team with 10 targets, but hauled in just five of them for 32 yards. Agholor let two passes slip threw his hands and had a potential third drop on a deep pass along the sideline.
Honorable mentions: Matthew Judon got back on the stat sheet for the first time in three weeks recording 1.5 sacks, while perhaps getting an assist on Uche’s third sack of the game.
A pair of underrated Patriot defenders had some key moments in Monday night’s game. Before the first half with Arizona looking to build on their lead, Jahlani Tavai broke up a key fourth-and-one pass to get New England the ball back. Tavai had another pass breakup later in the game as well. On the defensive line, Daniel Ekuale had some early pressure up the middle and cashed in on a two-play sequence in the second half when he recorded a run stuff and sack.
Offensively, Hunter Henry cashed in the big plays for New England’s offense. The Patriots were able to stress Arizona’s defense with vertical routes up the seam several times throughout the night, as Jones found Henry twice on such plays for 30+ yard gains.
Speaking of Jones, he finished the night with -0.1 EPA/play but picked his shots downfield. He hit the nice passes downfield to Henry and another strike to Nelson Agholor along the boundary. His lone interception was not on him as he was hit while being thrown.
Kendrick Bourne also had one of his best games of the season, hauling in five passes for 47 yards while standing out as a run blocker at times as well.
On the injury front, New England say several players depart Monday night. DeVante Parker (head) and Jack Jones (knee) were quickly ruled out, while Rhamondre Stevenson (ankle) returned briefly before being ruled out. Devin McCourty was also pulled late in the game, while Brenden Schooler supported a wrist brace postgame. Jones, McCourty, and Schooler proclaimed they were fine postgame, but next week’s injury report could be lengthy for New England on a short week.