For the large part of the 2022 season, Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne was put on the back burner despite proving to be one of the team’s top playmakers in 2021. That changed on Saturday.
Bourne showed his patented playmaking ability on his first play from scrimmage. With New England struggling to move the football, Bourne took the ball on a reverse - a staple for the receiver last year - and rumbled his ways for 29 yards.
“Just doing my job, being here for my guys - that’s all it is,” Bourne said postgame. “When my name is called that’s all that is. It’s not about me, it’s about the team. Once I got to go in the game I need to be ready that’s all it comes down to. Just be ready for the opportunity. Everybody situation different, so just looking at it on the bright side that I’m still being able to go out there and play.”
After his big run, Bourne looked like his old self as a fixture in the Patriots’ passing attack. Bourne was the biggest offensive factor on New England’s first touchdown drive, hauling in three balls (all on third-down) and the score. His 32-yard conversion on third-and-10 was highlight material, as he came down with the ball between three Cincinnati defenders just three plays before finding the end zone for the first time this season.
On New England’s next drive, Jones again turned to Bourne when needing a big play. Jones launched one down the right sideline to the receiver, but the play was originally ruled incomplete. After a Bill Belichick challenge, it was reversed as Bourne made a fantastic play to get both feet down with control of the ball.
“It was just a good play, man,” he said. “Helped the team, momentum, we needed it. Mac made a good throw, man, gave me a chance to catch it. So, it held up and made a good play. It was good they gave it to us. ... Glad we made the call to get it back.”
Bourne’s playing time has been one of the bigger question marks regarding the Patriots offense this season - something that seemed to stem from a tumultuous summer. But Bourne has proved to be perhaps the team's most explosive receiver, who is also a favorite target of quarterback Mac Jones.
“I think KB, he’s a great teammate, and he’s one of my closest friends,” Jones said postgame. “Every time I’ve seen him, he’s had a smile on his face, even in a situation like that at the end of the game where we’re trying to fight back and there’s a lot of pressure, he’s in there smiling, like, “let’s go do that.”
“When you see that from a guy, and I’m saying the same stuff in the huddle, I want to look for a guy like that, who wants to compete and play and play with effort. He’s one of those guys.”
When asked why the receiver’s snaps have been few and far between after the game Saturday, Belichick explained there was “no particular reason.” When called upon though, Bourne was ready. On Saturday, he recorded a career-high eclipsing the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career on six receptions.
“Just being ready, that's the whole thing,” Bourne said. “Nothing to prove, just being ready when the coaches call me. I’m happy they still believe in me, no matter how it looks or what it sounds like. They believe in me and I was able to make some plays today for my team.”
“To me it’s just about self confidence. My coaches believing in me, I know they believe in me that's why I’m still here,” he later added. “That's why they work with me, they help me. My teammates believe in me too, so it helps me a bunch.”
With two games left in the season, New England will need all the help they can get to try and salvage a playoff spot. That should include continued involvement from their 27-year old receiver.
“Just helping the team. To be able to help the team, it feels good man,” Bourne said. “Just not the result, so it don't matter at all.”