Loser: Kickoff coverage. Nyheim Hines wasted no time making an impact as he returned the opening kickoff for a score. Later in the third quarter, he did it again taking it 101 yards to the house as New England took poor angles and missed tackles.
The Patriots’ kickoff coverage unit has struggled mightily since Jake Bailey landed on IR as they can't reach the end zone. Without Bailey and specialist Brenden Schooler, as well as DaMarcus Mitchell for most of the game, those struggles continued. It hurt them in a big way and changes could be on the horizon in this department.
Winner: WR DeVante Parker. After missing the last three games, Parker made his return Sunday and led New England with six catches, 79 yards, and two touchdowns — including one of his famous 50-50 jump balls. It was a performance New England was likely envisioning when they acquired him this offseason.
Loser: CB Myles Bryant. The Patriots secondary had a tough afternoon in general as they still have no answer for Stefon Diggs (seven catches, 104 yards, touchdown). But, Bryant gets singled out as he appeared to be in coverage on John Brown’s 42-yard score and missed a tackle on Hines’ second return touchdown.
Winner: DB Devin McCourty. In his potential last game, McCourty left it all on the field. He recorded an interception to keep Buffalo off the scoreboard at the end of the half. That wasn't all, as he made a strong pass breakup in the end zone and was involved in a fumble recovery. If this is indeed it, McCourty went out swinging.
Honorable mentions: This was perhaps Mac Jones’ best game against Buffalo throughout his young career. He finished with 243 yards and three scores — one a perfectly placed ball in the back of the end zone to Jakobi Meyers. It wasn't all good, however, as he tossed three interceptions. Several of them were tipped by Patriots receivers, but Jones had a bad decision and pass to Nelson Agholor that killed New England’s opening drive of the second half.
As for the skill players, a 54-yard day from Rhamondre Stevenson pushed him over the 1,000-yard mark on the season. Stevenson finished the season with 1,461 scrimmage yards, the fourth most by any Patriots player since 2000. His five catches on the day also put his total at 69, leading the team and being the fourth most from any Patriots back in history.
Good things continued to happen when Kendrick Bourne touches the ball, as he finished with four catches on five targets for 45 yards. It was the opposite for Nelson Agholor, as he went catchless and his lone target was intercepted. Hunter Henry also had a solid statistical day, finishing with six receptions for 42 yards.
Defensively, the Patriots’ pass rush continued to carry the unit. Matthew Judon didn't crack the stat sheet, but his presence was felt. His pressure up the middle on a stunt with Christian Barmore — who was also disruptive up front — forced an underthrow and interception on Josh Allen. Deatrich Wise Jr. and Daniel Ekuale also recorded sacks.