New England Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones received his first taste of the NFL playoffs on Saturday night against the rival Buffalo Bills. And much to his dismay, that taste was somewhere in between sour and bitter.
While signs point to Jones developing into a true franchise starter -- he led all qualified rookies in completions, passing yards, and touchdowns this season -- the Alabama product stood no chance in the team's ghastly 47-17 wild-card loss at Highmark Stadium. Overall, Jones racked up 232 passing yards with a pair of touchdowns and picks, though his final stats don't tell the entire story.
"The Patriots, which lost three of four to finish the regular season, this is what I thought might happen. But I didn't expect a beatdown like this. I took a look at New England and thought they might at least keep it close," JR said during the JR SportBrief show on Monday. "A young quarterback's first playoff game, I expect you to get smacked. Unless you're Joe Burrow. But for the most part, it's a whole new ballgame. It's a whole new experience.
"You've got to do some damn damage, or you have to live through a beating before you come out better for it. Jones, he experienced it... What happens to Jones? Bill Belichick gave him credit, said he looks forward to seeing him next season. But Jones took responsibility for this. He shouldn't be so hard on himself. It's not all his fault. He didn't go out there and give up 47 points."
New England's goal of reaching the divisional round became a pipe dream by the midway point. At halftime, the Bills led by 24 points, and when the fourth quarter clock expired, they became the first team during the Super Bowl era to score on each of its seven possessions that didn't end in a kneel-down. Bills star quarterback Josh Allen also became the NFL's first signal-caller to have a playoff game with 300-plus passing yards, five-plus passing scores, and 60-plus rushing yards.
The Patriots' offense didn't come close to achieving similar success -- their two touchdowns were essentially garbage time scores, which came during the third- and fourth quarters. Jones' promising rookie campaign didn't end with flashy performances. In his final five games (the Patriots went 1-4), he threw eight touchdowns with seven interceptions.
JR's complete thoughts on the Bills-Patriots game can be accessed in the audio player above.
You can follow the JR SportBrief show on Twitter @JRSportBrief and Tom Hanslin @TomHanslin.