ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Two Patriots could not finish Monday night’s victory against the Bills.
The team ruled out both running back Damien Harris (hamstring) and safety Adrian Phillips (knee) in the final minutes of the fourth quarter because of injuries.
Harris was initially listed as questionable in the first half, but returned to action midway through the third quarter. He broke free for a 22-yard run on first down, but was clearly hobbled on the play and ended up limping to the sideline. He did not return to the field for the remainder of the game.
Harris finished with 10 carries for 111 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown run for the first score of the game.
Rookie Rhamondre Stevenson took on the majority of the carries with Harris limited. He finished with a team- and season-high 24 carries for 78 yards. Veteran Brandon Bolden also chipped in for 28 yards on four carries.
Phillips, meanwhile, exited right before Buffalo’s final offensive play of the game. He had just broken up a third-down pass intended for Bills tight end Dawson Knox in the end zone, and lined up in position for the ensuing fourth-down try. But before quarterback Josh Allen snapped the ball, Phillips went down on the field and required medical assistance.
“I think AP wasn’t sure how he felt and then kind of took a step and needed to go down,” safety Devin McCourty said after New England’s 14-10 victory.
While being looked at by trainers, Phillips sat on the ground holding his knee. He was able to walk to the sideline under his own power, and after the game tweeted, “THANK YOU GOD!!” — perhaps an indication he received good news about his status.
Outside linebacker Matthew Judon also had an injury scare late in the fourth quarter, staying down on the field after tackling running back Devin Singletary. Judon was able to return on that drive after missing a few snaps.
The Patriots will have extra time to rest this week, as they are now on their bye.
“We have a few guys who need it,” said Bolden. “I’m sure all of us do, going through this long, long run of OTAs, training camp, and the regular season. This is the one time we really have a chance to take a deep breath and collect ourselves. It’s one of those things that’s kind of needed, and this one came right on time.”
Jalen Mills doing some heavy lifting in secondary
Jerod Mayo did a double take.
Shortly after Jalen Mills signed with the Patriots in March, the inside linebackers coach was strolling through the team facility when he stumbled upon something he wasn’t expecting.
“Early on in building our relationship, I walked in the weight room and [Mills] is doing power cleans,” said Mayo. “You don’t see too many defensive backs doing power cleans. So, I knew right then and there he probably belonged in our room — the linebacker room. He’s definitely a tough guy and it’s good to have him here.”
The power clean is an explosive full body exercise popular with the guys that play in and around the trenches. Mills, who is 6 feet, 191 pounds, might not fit the mold of the prototypical front-seven mauler, but he’s no stranger to sticking his nose in the dirty areas.
“Jalen’s come in and done an excellent job for us,” said Mayo. “If you remember when he was in Philly, he played a little bit of safety and also corner. So, that versatility is something that we covet here in New England, and his tackling ability is definitely something that stands out. He’s done a great job.”
The popular belief was that Mills, who spent his first five seasons with the Eagles, would help fill the void left by Patrick Chung’s retirement — a player that can play multiple positions, including coverage duties and run support. It’s played out differently.
Mills has filled the perimeter cornerback spot previously occupied by Stephon Gilmore, and has started all but one game at right corner. He has adapted to New England’s defensive schemes, a diabolical mix of man and zone concepts with a dash of disguises, seamlessly.
With J.C. Jackson playing his normal Venus flytrap brand of defense while traveling with the opponent’s top receiver, it would be natural to think Mills would be a popular person for quarterbacks to pick on. But that hasn’t been the case.
Mills has been equal to the tasks for the most part, proving to be a vital cog in a defense that harasses the quarterback and leads the league in interceptions.
“We count on him. We count on him to play well — all those guys at corner,” said safety Devin McCourty. “In this league, you won’t win many games if you don’t play well at the corner position.”
Mills, who is known for his trademark Green Goblin hair, brings a ton of energy to the defense. Bill Belichick recently called him the “defensive Kendrick Bourne,” and his teammates definitely feed off it.
His quick assimilation is what’s really impressed his coach.
“He’s always ready to go, very durable, tough, out there all the time. He has a good, physical style of play, generally tackles well in the running game, jams receivers, and has good instincts. He’s around the ball. He’s done a nice job for us,” said Belichick. “It’s a different system than what he played in Philadelphia, but I think he’s adapted to it well.
“He’s a good all-around football player. He’s good in all areas and continues to learn a little bit more about the system that he’s in, and also working with teammates like Myles [Bryant] as opposed to Jon Jones earlier in the year. . . . Jalen’s been a really solid addition for us. I’m glad we have him. I love his versatility and his overall play style.”
Kyle Dugger unavailable
Safety Kyle Dugger missed Monday night’s showdown against the Bills, remaining on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Dugger’s status for the game became a question mark Wednesday, when he did not practice after testing positive for the virus. He has not returned to the field. If Dugger is vaccinated, then he could have played if he tested negative twice at least 24 hours apart. If he is unvaccinated, then he automatically would have been ruled out for 10 days. The Patriots temporarily elevated safety Sean Davis off the practice squad . . . New England’s defense did get one contributor back. Linebacker Jamie Collins was officially activated off injured reserve after missing three games. Collins has seven tackles and an interception in his five games with the Patriots this season. The Patriots also elevated defensive lineman Daniel Ekuale off the practice squad, as they did in Weeks 7 and 8. He contributed two tackles and a sack . . . The Bills, meanwhile, placed linebacker A.J. Klein on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Monday evening. Klein has played 35.2 percent of the team’s defensive snaps and 42.3 percent of the team’s special teams snaps this season . . . David Andrews came out for pregame snow globe warmups in shorts and a sleeveless T-shirt. That’s it. That’s the note.
Nicole Yang of Globe Staff contributed to this report.
Jim McBride can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.