Revisiting Mac Jones’ historic three-pass performance against Bills in Week 13

When the Patriots and Bills first met during the 2021 NFL season, it was expected to be a close division matchup. It certainly turned into that, as the powerful wind blowing up to 50 miles per hour turned the game into a close range brawl.

The Bills were able to throw the ball, as Josh Allen has one of the strongest arms in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Patriots didn’t trust rookie Mac Jones to carry the load, so they relied heavily on his running game. In fact, 93.9 percent of his offensive snaps were running plays.

Somehow the Patriots were still able to pull out a win. They outscored the Bills by 11 yards and outscored them 14-10. Jones threw just three passes total, the fewest in a win since Joe Ferguson threw three passes in a Bills win during the 1973 season.

Let’s take a look at Mac Jones’ historic game and why exactly the Patriots refused to pitch it to him during that “Monday Night Football” matchup.

Why did Mac Jones throw so few passes against the Bills in Week 13?

Jones threw only three passes against the Bills because of the weather. Conditions that night, which included high winds that blew throughout the night and potentially reached up to 50 miles per hour, would have made it difficult for Jones to throw the ball accurately and could have resulted in poor shooting and turnovers.

As such, Bill Belichick chose to keep the ball on the ground and make sure Jones didn’t have to make too many big plays to stay in the game.

“We didn’t know what it was going to be,” Belichick said of the game plan. “It’s the way it worked.”

In fact, the Patriots were very successful on the field. They rushed for 222 yards during the contest and averaged 4.8 yards per attempt. They wore down the Bills’ defensive front and were able to lead three scoring drives during the game. That included a 64-yard touchdown run by Damien Harris.

Jones didn’t mind taking on a limited role. He knew his experienced coaching staff knew what they were doing.

“Coach Belichick and Coach Josh (McDaniels), they’ve been in every type of element out there and they know what it takes to win,” Jones said. It would be good.

Jones also thought the dominant game plan on the field was a good one and praised his teammates for executing it.

“We had a game plan, and obviously that changes a little bit with the elements. But at the end of the day, I think we had the look we were going for to run the ball and we just kept going.” Jones said in his postgame news conference. “Like I said, the offensive line created the holes and those guys ran hard, not to mention the receivers came in to block as well. Everybody played a role and it was great to see them put that effort into it.” .”

Mac Jones highlights, pass attempts vs. Bills

Below you can watch all three of Mac Jones’ pass attempts against the Bills.

Jones’ first pass attempt came late in the first quarter. He found Jonnu Smith wide open near the first down marker and was able to get him into range to make a play with the ball. The launch wasn’t pretty due to the wind, but it got the job done.

Jones’ second pitch didn’t come until 6:50 of the fourth quarter. The Patriots ran the ball 34 consecutive times before letting Jones attempt a game action pass. He tried to take it to Nelson Agholor, but it was broken.

Jones’ final pass attempt came right after that incomplete pass to Agholor. He passed a short screen to Brandon Bolden. That was his last attempt of the night, and he went 2-for-3 for 19 yards.

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Mac Jones vs. Bills stats

Jones’ numbers against the Bills haven’t been impressive in two games. That’s understandable, considering the Bills have allowed just one touchdown and six interceptions in five games against rookie quarterbacks this year, but they’re still a departure from their numbers against other teams.

In fact, what Jones has done in two games against the Bills pales in comparison to his yearly single-game averages.

mac jones % completion passing yards Pass TD interceptions
vs Invoices (total) 45.7 164 0 two
vs. Other teams (per game) 69.1 242.3 1.3 0.7

Of course, Jones only threw three passes in Week 13, but his record total against the Bills of 35+ pass attempts is far from brilliant. That said, the Bills have the best scoring defense and have allowed the fewest yards in the NFL this season, so Jones is far from the only player who has struggled against them.

Still, Jones will need to do a little better as a passer for the Patriots to beat the Bills in the wild-card round. They’ll still rely heavily on the running game, but a sub-50 completion percentage and no touchdowns probably won’t cut it in this matchup.