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It was a rough ending, but it’s only just the beginning for Patriots quarterback Mac Jones

It was a bitter end for Mac Jones, who was 24-of-38 passing for 232 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — No matter the result during his first season with the Patriots, Mac Jones remained consistent.

“I know I’m a rookie,” he said after the loss to the Bills on Saturday night. “But I could have done a better job.”

It was a familiar line, one he’s spouted often as the Patriots sputtered to four losses in their last five games and an early end to the postseason.

And Jones wasn’t wrong. In his first NFL playoff game, a 47-17 loss, he looked overmatched.

It was apparent the Patriots’ offense was going to struggle after Jones was intercepted on a pass to Nelson Agholor on their first drive of the game — a disappointing rebuttal to Josh Allen’s methodical opening series in which it took him nine plays to drive 70 yards to score.


Jones attempted 38 passes, connecting on 24 of them for 232 yards. It was the most he had attempted against the Bills this season, following his three-pass effort in the Week 13 win and the 32 he tried in the Week 16 loss.

He had one other interception, early in the third quarter in the middle of the field that the Bills, of course, turned into another TD.

He had two touchdown passes, but they were largely forgettable — both catches by Kendrick Bourne when the game was out of hand.

Jones finished his rookie season with 4,033 yards passing (3,801 in the regular season), 24 touchdown passes (22 in the regular season), 15 interceptions (13 in the regular season), and was sacked 31 times (28 came in the regular season).

It was the longest season of Jones’s career, far longer than anything he faced at Alabama, nothing as breezy as blowout wins over Kentucky and Mississippi State. And it showed in his face after bracing the elements in Buffalo in the third-coldest game in Patriots history.


But for all his consistency — his desire to put the losses on his shoulders, to spread the love to his teammates when they got a win — Jones offered a moment of introspection, a window into how he might approach his future in the NFL.

“I always relate it back to being a pilot,” Jones said. “You’ve only flown so many times. You know, by the time you have hundreds of flight hours, it’s just an everyday thing.”

Jones is looking forward to getting more of those hours under his belt. And that begins now, with the Patriots heading home early and a full offseason — no classes, no combine, no draft prep to distract him — for Jones to buckle down.

“I’m obviously a rookie, and you know, I played like that sometimes,” Jones said. “I shouldn’t have, and I can play better.”

And that journey starts now.

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Katie McInerney can be reached at katie.mcinerney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @k8tmac.