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Patriots Wild Card Weekend Snap Counts: Interpretations and Implications

Patriot Maven breaks down the numbers and possible meanings behind the Pats’ playing time in New England’s season-ending loss to the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night.

As the New England Patriots attempt to digest their 47-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Monday at Highmark Stadium, (improving their record to 9-4 on the 2021 season) they continue to take stock into their performance on both sides of the ball.

Heading into the offseason, there are plenty of areas in which the Patriots will seek improvement. While game-film analysis will be the main focus, a look at playing time may assist the Pats in helping to devise effective strategies moving forward.

Here is a look at the Patriots offensive and defensive snap counts from Saturday’s matchup, along with some possible insight on New England’s future game-planning.

Offensive Snaps

On offense, the Pats snap count was 63 versus the Bills on Saturday night.

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After once again falling behind early, New England was forced to heavily rely on the passing game, and Saturday’s offensive snap counts bear that out. The starters along the offensive line took 100 percent of the Pats offensive snaps. Justin Herron, who started in place of the injured Isaish Wynn, played a solid game at left tackle. As a result, Michael Onwenu remained limited to the jumbo tight end role, seeing the field for just 11 snaps.

With the Patriots going pass-heavy, running backs Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson saw decreases from their usual snap totals. Brandon Bolden led the running back room in taking 24 total offensive snaps. Stevenson, who occasionally aligned as a backfield receiver, finished behind Bolden logging 23 total snaps. Typically deployed as the Pats feature back, Harris finished the night having seen the field for only 17 snaps on offense.

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Among the wide receivers, Jakobi Meyers once again led the way with 56 snaps. Nelson Agholor aligned for 52 snaps, providing evidence that New England was looking to utilize the vertical route for deep plays down the field. Kendrick Bourne made the most of his 40 offensive snaps, compiling 77 yards on seven catches for two touchdowns. Relegated to limited duty, N’Keal Harry was present for only five snaps on offense.

Those hoping to see New England unleash its two-tight-end scoring offense on Saturday will have to wait until 2022. Hunter Henry saw the field for 81 percent of New England offensive snaps, logging only one reception for 30 yards. Henry was targeted four times, including once in the endzone where he dropped a sure-fire touchdown in the second half.

Defensive Snaps

On defense, the Pats snap count was 56 versus the Bills on Saturday night.

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New England deployed a total of 21 players on defense on Saturday, indicating the team’s search for a solution in stopping Buffalo’s offense. Unfortunately for the Pats, they did so to no avail.

Safety Devin McCourty was the only Patriot present for all 56 defensive snaps on Saturday. Despite having his hand wrapped in a ‘club,’ Kyle Dugger was second in the Patriots safety group taking 46 snaps, with Adrian Phillips seeing the field for 68 percent of the Pats' snaps on defense.

J.C. Jackson led all cornerbacks, logging 51 defensive snaps. Joejuan Williams saw the field for 41 snaps, mostly at outside corner in place of Jalen Mills. Myles Bryant took 23 snaps in the slot, while special teamer Justin Bethel contributed on 13 snaps at both corner and safety. Practice squad elevations D’Angelo Ross (8 snaps) and De’Vante Bausby (3 snaps) saw limited duty at the position.

Kyle Van Noy once again led the way for all linebackers, taking 54 out of 56 snaps. Team captain Dont’a Hightower saw the field for 80 percent of the Pats defensive plays, seeing much of his time in the middle. Ja’Whaun Bentley took 18 snaps before leaving the game with an arm injury. Matt Judon’s time on the field was significantly reduced to only 22 snaps, a 40 percent reduction from the previous week.

Along the Pats defensive line, Deatrich Wise took 41 defensive snaps on the end, while interior linemen Davon Godchaux (33 snaps), Christian Barmore (33 snaps) and Lawrence Guy (30 snaps) all saw the field for over 50 percent of the Pats defensive plays. Daniel Ekuale (who filled the reserve role on the line, in place of Carl Davis who was inactive on Saturday) took 16 defensive snaps.