The Patriots didn’t get the best version of Mac Jones in Week 8, but it didn’t matter

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Despite the New England Patriots’ 27-24 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, quarterback Mac Jones did not have his best game.

He went 18 of 35 (51%) on the afternoon, throwing for 217 yards with no touchdowns or no interceptions. After starting off the game quickly, including a 44-yard deep strike to Nelson Agholor, Jones went through a stretch that saw him go seven-of-17 through the air.

With Jones struggling, the running game proved to be the centerpiece on the offense. Damien Harris led all rushers with 23 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown. In total, New England recorded 39 carries for 142 yards on the ground.

With the ground game churning, New England simplified their offense in the second half in the best way. New England shifted to a run-based offense, and chewed away at the Chargers. That allowed for Jones to gain his confidence after a bout of inaccuracy in the second quarter. It also allowed for play-action passing to open up. This gave Jones a bit more time to throw against a Los Angeles defensive front that was pressuring him all afternoon.

New England’s last major drive of the fourth quarter exemplified this. It was a 14-play 54-yard drive that took 6:56 off the clock. Rhamondre Stevenson and Harris helped pace the drive in the running game, while key catches by Agholor and Jakobi Meyers helped extend it.

The drive itself was a masterclass in how to drain the clock. It also tied together all of the elements that made New England successful despite Jones’ struggles. The runs made the downs and distances more manageable. The key catches came in crucial moments that helped Jones succeed. He wasn’t in the spotlight. He didn’t need to be.

This game was a team effort in the truest sense of the phrase, and brought back old-school football in a day and age of big plays and quick scores.

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