Winners and losers from Patriots’ dominant victory against the Panthers

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It’s November and the New England Patriots are finally appearing to be in mid-season form.

Bill Belichick’s team has three consecutive victories and is now undefeated on the road (4-0) following the 24-6 win over the Carolina Panthers. Mac Jones struggled in the first half after throwing an interception to Stephon Gilmore and losing a fumble. The Patriots running back crew was the spark plug for the offense and the rush defense was dominant the entire game.

The Patriots now have back-to-back wins over solid teams and the momentum is starting to build for a playoff run. Barring health issues, the Patriots are on gearing up for a spot in the playoffs.

Here’s the winners and losers from the game.

WINNER: Running back crew

The identity of this Patriots offense is beginning to form and it has everything to do with the running backs.

Damien Harris now has five consecutive games with a touchdown following the xx-rush, x-touchdown performance. Rhamondre Stevenson is lethal as a pass-catcher/rusher and Brandon Bolden is having one of the best years of his career.

Collectively, the group had 222 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.

This is what Stevenson brings to the table.

LOSER: Wide receiver crew

Gilmore’s presence played a factor in the Patriots’ inability to throw to receivers, but they clearly aren’t the focal point of this offense.

Jones relies heavily on the running backs and tight ends to move the chains and that’s been the theme over the Patriots’ last three victories. Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor had a total of 69 yards with eight targets in the entire game.

If the Patriots plan on a deep playoff run, this group must become much more relevant.

WINNER: TE Hunter Henry

Hunter Henry now has five touchdowns in his last six games.

Jones knows he can trust Henry and he finished the game with two catches for 19 yards and the touchdown. He’s quickly separating himself from Jonnu Smith as the team’s best tight end.

WINNER: CB J.C. Jackson

J.C. Jackson is doing just fine as the team’s No. 1 cornerback.

He blew the game open with an 88-yard pick-six as the Panthers were in the red zone and had the opportunity to tie the game. He followed that up with a clutch interception in the end zone to prevent a Panthers comeback early in the fourth quarter.

Jackson now has the second-most interceptions in the league (5) and he’s chasing his record of nine that he had last season.

He’s now tied with Mike Haynes for the most interceptions (22) through four seasons with the Patriots.

WINNER: Run defense

The rush defense was incredible the entire game.

Christian McCaffrey, who’s one of the league’s most explosive players, had a few solid runs that were inevitable. But, the Panthers only had 78 rushing yards on the day and that led to Darnold’s desperation through the air.

This defense is quickly turning things around and it all starts in the trenches.

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