New England Patriots: Quick takes on big Week 9 win against the Panthers

New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry (85) Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry (85) Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /
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New England Patriots
Rhamondre Stevenson #38 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

The stars of the New England Patriots offense

In between that bundle of miscues, Mac Jones was sharp early on. Jones completed six of his first seven passes, 11 of 13 in the first half and 12 of 18 for the game. Fairly pedestrian.

Given time to pass, Jones was more like his usual self early after a less than stellar passing game against the Los Angeles Chargers last week.

Jones made some big mistakes but also drilled a laser to Hunter Henry with 24 seconds left on the clock in the first half to give the Patriots a 14-6 lead.

Yet a fumble on a sack and interceptions can’t continue. Jones also suffered two delays of the game penalties. Not acceptable.

Tailing off in the second half, Jones missed several throws by a lot. He has to be more consistent half to half. Yet, he got almost no contributions from his wide receivers.

The Patriots did nothing at the trade deadline to bolster that position or any other position for that matter. That lack of activity (unless they make a move for a released player perhaps) will probably cost them as they play tougher competition from here on out.

That notwithstanding, Jones is still looking like the best quarterback of his draft class to this point. His biggest flaw against Carolina was poor receivers and an uncharacteristically poor performance early on by his offensive line.

Rhamondre “Ram” (as in battering) Stevenson was stellar. He showed his stuff on a long gainer on a screen pass. And more on the ground. He’s living up to the advance billing.

Stevenson was advocated early and often here as a future star, and he didn’t disappoint against Carolina. Unfortunately, he got banged up in the fourth quarter and didn’t return. Hopefully, it’s not serious.

Why he has been on the shelf and used so little is a mystery and another obvious personnel gaffe by the coaching staff. Hopefully, they will start playing the rookie more. If healthy, he’ll deliver.

Next. Sam Darnold still seeing ghosts as Pats cruise to victory. dark

Damian Harris also continued his solid play with a touchdown run before also going out injured. Brandon Bolden also filled the “James White” role with aplomb, as he has done the past few weeks.

Bolden has occasioned another crow dining experience as this space expected nothing whatsoever from the veteran back. He has been a totally unexpected contributor when nothing was expected from him in this space, at all.

All in all, it was a convincing if not perfect win. And a win is a win. The Patriots are now 5-4 and in the thick of the playoff hunt. Welcome back to a winning record.