Breaking down snap counts and play percentages from the New England Patriots’ 19-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night:
— The first number that jumps off that list is the “4” next to J.J. Taylor’s name. The second-year running back remained an afterthought in the Patriots’ offense even with James White lost for the season, finishing with one carry for zero yards and one catch for 1 yard.
Taylor might see even less playing time moving forward after losing a fumble in Buccaneers territory. That costly error could open a door for rookie Rhamondre Stevenson, who hasn’t played since coughing up a fumble and blowing a blitz pickup in Week 1.
Damien Harris led all Patriots backs in snaps played with 36 despite the team fully abandoning the run for the final 1 1/2 quarters. Harris carried just four times for -4 yards, so the bulk of his snaps came in the passing game. He caught both of his targets for 30 yards, including a 21-yard catch-and-run that kick-started the Patriots’ second touchdown drive.
Veteran Brandon Bolden played 19 offensive snaps and was the Patriots’ most productive pass-catching back, catching six on six targets for 51 yards.
— N’Keal Harry was the Patriots’ No. 4 receiver in his 2021 season debut, playing a total of 15 snaps (25 percent) in the loss.
Harry, who was activated off injured reserve Saturday, was not a major factor but did contribute on each of the Patriots’ touchdown drives, drawing a defensive pass interference penalty on the first and pulling in a 10-yard reception from Mac Jones on the second. That was the only target Harry saw in the game.
The rest of the Patriots’ receiver hierarchy remained the same, with Jakobi Meyers playing 95 percent of snaps, Nelson Agholor playing 73 percent and Kendrick Bourne playing 61 percent. Meyers and Bourne have showed strong connections with Jones of late, combining for 318 receiving yards over the last two games.
— With Harry back, wideout/punt returner Gunner Olszewski played only on special teams.
— Ted Karras replaced Mike Onwenu at left guard during the second half. Onwenu later briefly reentered the game in a jumbo package, seemingly indicating he was benched for performance reasons. The 2020 rookie standout was flagged twice for holding on the same second-quarter drive.
— Yasir Durant replaced starting right tackle Justin Herron on multiple possessions. The Patriots again were without preferred starter Trent Brown (calf), who has not played since the opening drive of Week 1.
— Hunter Henry (40 snaps) outsnapped fellow tight end Jonnu Smith (28 snaps) for the third consecutive game. Each caught a touchdown pass from Jones — a promising step forward for this underperforming position group.
— Safety Devin McCourty and cornerbacks J.C. Jackson and Jalen Mills played every defensive snap.
Jackson and Mills shadowed wideouts Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, respectively, throughout the game, with slot corner Jonathan Jones matching up against third receiver Antonio Brown. Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady went right at Jackson, targeting Evans on each of his first two passes and five of his first eight.
Evans led all receivers with seven catches on 12 targets for 75 yards. Brown had seven catches on 11 targets for 63 yards, including a key third-down conversion on what proved to be Tampa Bay’s game-winning drive. The ex-Patriot converted three third downs in the game and had another wiped out by an O-line penalty.
— Brady capitalized on a defensive weakness on Brown’s pivotal third-down reception. Jonathan Jones suffered an injury one play earlier, and the 44-year-old quarterback immediately attacked his replacement, special teamer Justin Bethel.
That was the only defensive snap Bethel played in the game, with Jones returning to finish out the drive.
— Linebacker Kyle Van Noy (96 percent) hardly left the field. Matt Judon played 87 percent of snaps and continued to look like the Patriots’ best defensive player, harassing Brady throughout the game.
— Inside linebackers Harvey Langi (two snaps) and Jahlani Tavai (one) made early-game cameos with starter Ja’Whaun Bentley inactive due to injury. Tavai was up from the practice squad, as was defensive back Myles Bryant (nine snaps). The Patriots went with Bryant over fourth cornerback Joejuan Williams, who sat out as a healthy scratch.
— Even with Bentley out, the Patriots continued to manage Dont’a Hightower’s workload (69 percent). He’s been below 70 percent of snaps in each of the last two games.
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