Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Jordy McElroy

Winners and losers in Patriots’ 22-18 loss to Bengals

Sadly, Saturday’s ending felt fitting for this year’s New England Patriots team.

They’ve seemingly done everything possible to get in their own way in completely winnable games this season, and the Week 16 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals was no different.

Buy Patriots Tickets

After nearly overcoming a 22-point halftime deficit, running back Rhamondre Stevenson coughed up the game-ending fumble that ultimately put an end to New England’s 18-point run. An improbable comeback was followed by a seemingly impossible mistake to seal the Patriots’ fate as a 7-8 team on the season.

It would be easy to simply point the finger at Stevenson, but there’s plenty of blame to go around for this loss. Here are the winners and losers of the game.

Loser: Rhamondre Stevenson

Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The future is bright for Rhamondre Stevenson, but it doesn’t mean he hasn’t shown serious struggles with the ball in his hands and the game on the line.

He was the one that initiated the first lateral in the embarrassing Week 15 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, and on Saturday, he committed the game-ending turnover in the red zone that handed the win to the Bengals.

Talent will never trump the importance of situational football, and Stevenson is going to have to improve fast and in a hurry to avoid coach Bill Belichick’s doghouse. That’s one area veteran running back Damien Harris has consistently excelled at as a Patriot.

Winner: Marcus Jones

Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Jones was carrying the Patriots on his back in this game.

He sparked the team with their first points of the game on an interception returned for a touchdown against Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.

Later in the game, he then jumped on the offensive side of the ball and moved the chains on a 15-yard reception.

On defense, Jones led the team with 14 tackles, one tackle for a loss and one pass deflection. The rookie third-round draft pick gave new meaning to stuffing the stat sheet.

Loser: Matt Patricia

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots were too content to constantly call up running plays, despite falling behind on the scoreboard and the Bengals’ defensive front shutting things down.

It really wasn’t until the second half before things started to open up offensively for the Patriots. Once again, the struggles with the play-calling falls directly on Matt Patricia’s shoulders.

It’s beginning to become a chore watching the Patriots rely so heavily on failed running plays and screens to barely move the ball downfield. There’s nothing about the offense that scares anyone.

Winner: Jakobi Meyers

Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

After tossing the failed lateral that sealed the Patriots’ fate in last week’s loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, wideout Jakobi Meyers bounced back in a big way with an incredible touchdown play in the fourth quarter.

Mac Jones scrambled around in the pocket to avoid a sack, before heaving up a deep ball to reserve tight end Scotty Washington, who pushed the ball into the arms of Meyers for the touchdown.

The play showed great concentration from both Meyers and Washington. Meyers finished the game with six receptions for 83 yards and one touchdown.

Loser: Tyquan Thornton

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie receiver Tyquan Thornton has the speed and size the Patriots are looking for on the outside, but he’s going to have to start making plays to prove himself worthy of the second-round draft pick the team spent on him in 2022.

He was running free against the Bengals defense and dropped an incredible deep ball from Patriots quarterback Mac Jones in the game.

We are far enough into the season where Thornton should start showing some strides in the offense, but he’s been just as inconsistent as everyone else around him, if not more so.

He was held to a pitiful one catch for eight yards in the game.

Loser: Nick Folk

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Folk was the unsung hero for the Patriots heading into this game, but that would have seemed like crazy talk for anyone watching on Saturday.

The veteran kicker clearly wasn’t his usual self on the day considering he was 0-for-2 for extra points. Granted, it was a cold day in Foxborough with wind as a factor.

So the kicking all around wasn’t good for either team. But this was definitely Folk’s worst game of the season.

Winner: Kendrick Bourne

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

It’s crazy how often Kendrick Bourne has been overlooked in the Patriots’ offense. He had a career-year for the team with 55 receptions, 800 yards and five touchdowns last season.

So the connection with Mac Jones has always been there.

But the struggles with the play-calling and general shift of offensive philosophy with Josh McDaniels leaving shook things up beyond recognition.

However, Bourne made everyone remember on Saturday by hauling in six receptions for a team-high 100 yards and one touchdown.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.