Patriots

‘It’s something I’ll have to live with’: What Mac Jones said about Patriots’ loss to Bills

"There's a lot to look forward to and be positive about and learn from."

Mac Jones
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones attends a news conference after an NFL wild-card playoff football game. AP Photo/Adrian Kraus

The Patriots felt like they were building to their 47-17 loss to the Bills in Saturday’s AFC wild card game for a few weeks, but that — of course — was not a comfort for rookie quarterback Mac Jones.

“I wish I could have put a better performance out there so we could push together through the playoffs, but it’s something I’ll have to live with,” he said at one point, as part of an answer about tight end Hunter Henry. “It’ll motivate me for next year, but I wish it could happen tonight.”

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Still, Jones — who has been hard on himself all year after both wins and losses — struck a somewhat different tone on Saturday.

“There’s a lot to look forward to and be positive about and learn from,” he said. “There’s nothing to hang our heads about. … There’s nothing to feel sorry about. It’s just a learning experience to get ready for next year.”

Jones’s optimism came despite a horrific outing by the Patriots. The Bills scored the first five touchdowns of the game — four of which came in the first half — and Jones’s passing stats of 24-for-38 for 232 yards and a pair of touchdowns were pedestrian in comparison to Josh Allen’s 21-for-25, 308-yard, five-touchdown masterpiece.

Jones’s first interception seemed to set the tone for the game. The Patriots needed a touchdown to match the Bills (who seemingly scored with ease on their first possession), and Jones led a drive down the field with two impressive plays, but Bills safety Micah Hyde made a sensational play to pick him off in the end zone.

The Patriots never recovered.

“Just not a very good throw,” Jones said. “I can make a better throw, and that’s pretty much it. I think when it’s the first drive of the game, you don’t want to do that.

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“Our goal was to not turn the ball over, and it happened.”

Jones said he expects to be more comfortable next season both as a player and as a leader.

“I know I’m a rookie or whatever, but I could have done a better job of just holding everybody to that standard, myself included,” he said. “I think we’ll make a lot of progress in the offseason with that and my leadership and just being myself. Sometimes it shows on the field, but it’s a result of how we prepare and we put a lot of effort into it, it’s not like we don’t do that, but I think just the little things show up in the game.”

Matthew Slater was asked about the future of the Patriots with Jones at the helm. Slater praised Jones’s character and called him “the type of man you hope to build around.”

It’s certainly been an honor for me to play alongside him and see him grow over the course of the year,” Slater said. “The Patriots nation, they should be excited about having No. 10 as their quarterback.”

More from Patriots postgame

– Slater wouldn’t divulge whether or not he plans to retire.

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“I certainly don’t want to disrespect the team and what we just went through and talk about my personal situation,” he said.

Still, Slater admitted he’s “closer to the end” and said he planned to pray about it in the coming days.

“Tonight I just want to make sure that I express gratitude to the people I owe it to, and take time to be reflective and thankful for not only my experiences this year but throughout the entirety of my career,” the 14-year veteran said.

He also seemed to suggest he would be watching Jones’s career from the sidelines sooner rather than later.

“I know my kids and I will be watching him for a long time to come,” Slater said. “I’m excited about where this organization is going to be in the future with him.”

– Let Slater use Saturday’s game as a measuring stick to remind you how special the Brady years were.

“I think you have to keep proper perspective on the National Football League,” he said. “For those of you who have been covering this team for a long time, this is not reality. What we’ve experienced here to have the runs that we’ve had, the expectations for this football team, nobody else in the league has done that. That’s not reality, that’s not the reality of the NFL.

“I think perspective is important. You look at what happened last year and the regression we had to get back to this point, I think certainly we should be proud of that. But the other edge of that sword tells us that the expectation and the demand are high here.”

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– Matt Judon started his press conference typically upbeat and friendly.

“What up gang?” he enthused, not for the first time this season before thanking reporters for showing up and standing in the cold.

Then he grew serious to describe how the Patriots got “handled” by the Bills.

“It’s a good offense,” he said. “They got a good wide receivers, they got a really good quarterback, decent O-line, and now they implement the run game as well, whether that’s with Josh Allen or [running back Devin] Singletary. When they are hitting all phases, intermediate game, short game, every run seemed like it was six yards, that’s very hard to stop. …

“Sometimes you’ve just got to give credit to the other team. It just sucks when you can’t play any more. It really sucks.”

Devin McCourty agreed.

“I think the reality of every time you step on the field in a playoff game, it’s the last chance that team has to be out there on the field. That’s at stake every time you go out there,” he said. “I think for this group, starting the season 2-4 and climbing back and I think building, it sucks to end that way.”

– Center David Andrews spoke existentially about what it means for both a team and for players individually when a season comes to an end.

“There’s finality in everything right?” he said. “There’s finality in the team, there’s guys who will leave, there’s guys who will retire, there’s coaches who will leave, whatever it may be, it’s a finality. That’s just part of it. It’s part of this business, and it makes it hard. …

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“It’s frustrating. It’s disappointing. And like I said, it’s a missed opportunity and they are all fleeting.”

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