Bill Belichick has always had a few tricks up his sleeve as head coach of the New England Patriots, and he pulled one out for the Buffalo Bills Thursday night.
On the Pats’ second possession of the game, cornerback and punt returner Marcus Jones emerged in the offensive huddle with Mac Jones and company at midfield. Jones ran to the slot for his first offensive snap of the season.
And that’s exactly where Mac Jones went with the ball. It paid off.
Jones, using his punt return speed, bolted through the Bills’ defense, and it was off to the races for a 48-yard touchdown, the first of the game for either team.
The Gillette Stadium crowd roared when the Patriots took the 7-3 lead, but those at home might have been watching this play a bit befuddled.
The rookie Jones was a dual threat at Houston, where he hauled in 10 receptions for 109 yards and one touchdown in 2021 during his senior season. He also totaled six kick returns for touchdowns and three punt returns for touchdowns during his four-year college career.
Understanding that part of his game, Belichick and Patriots senior football adviser Matt Patricia didn’t want to keep it bottled up.
The 5-foot-8, 185-pound corner has a punt return for a touchdown this season, too. His last-minute sprint against the New York Jets two weeks ago was the decisive score in that game.
Jones hasn’t played much defense this season for New England. The most snaps he’s played was 49% against the Detroit Lions in Week 5.
The Patriots selected Jones 85th overall in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft.