5 big takeaways as Patriots take control of AFC with win over Bills
Bill Belichick joked about how the Patriots can approach the season-ending rematch against the Bills
Even the best wins sometimes contain bad news, and the Patriots’ Monday night thriller – if that’s what we want to call it – against the Buffalo Bills was no exception.
New England lost two key players, running back Damien Harris (hamstring) and defenseman Adrian Phillips (knee), to injuries in Monday’s 14-10 road victory. The two left the game in the second half and did not return.
Harris appeared to twist his leg just before half-time and ran to the locker room as the second quarter dwindled. Although he came out with the team after the break, Rhamondre Stevenson started the third quarter as a running back.
Harris then pulled off a 22-yard gain on his first postponement of the second half, but limped back at the end of the game. He didn’t come back after that.
It should be noted, however, that the third consecutive year in Alabama spoke to the media after the match, which usually means that a player is not too badly injured. He will also have 11 days to recover and return to the pitch, assuming the injury isn’t too severe. Hamstring injuries can be difficult to assess, especially for skilled players like Harris.
If Harris is limited, the Patriots will be more than willing to give the ball to rookie Rhamondre Stevenson, who has been excellent this season.
Things are less clear when it comes to Phillips, however.
The veteran security went down after smashing a pass over Dawson Knox in the third and long term with about two minutes left. But the injury seems to have taken place as a result of the play; Phillips got up first and looked good as he celebrated with his teammates.
The Patriots defenseman came off the field with some help before New England finally closed the door on Buffalo with a fourth save.
The team has yet to provide an update on Phillips, but NFL Network’s Mike Giardi the noted team physicians administered the “ACL test” on the defensive back’s knee to determine if he had sustained a tear.
Phillips then tweeted “THANKS GOD !!” on his personal page, suggesting that initial diagnoses did not detect an ACL injury ending the season. He could still undergo further testing that could change his outlook, but the news looks positive for now.
A lingering injury to Phillips, who has been one of the team’s best defensemen this season, would hurt the Patriots in their full-fledged pursuit of a playoff break. But the defense could also pick up young security Kyle Dugger from the Reserve / COVID-19 list while they wait during the bye. Dugger did not play Monday night.
Hopefully, however, the Patriots will be back to full force – the Phillips included – when they face the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15.
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