Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne becoming a game-changer with explosive plays

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FOXBORO – It was only supposed to go for a modest gain. New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne made sure it went for much more than that.

For Bourne, he turned a third-down pass from quarterback Mac Jones over the middle into the most electrifying play in New England’s 36-13 win over the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.

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Bourne juked a defender to get to the sideline before Jakobi Meyers walled off another member of the Titans defense and Bourne tip-toed along the boundary – he included a stiff arm of Jayon Brown for good measure – en route to a 41-yard touchdown reception to give the Patriots a double-digit advantage with 5:01 left in the third quarter.

It was the type of big play the Patriots failed to produce last season, but Bourne, who New England signed to a three-year, $15 million deal this offseason, has provided a shot in the arm with his steady emergence in New England’s offense this season.

“KB has given us a lot of explosive plays through the course of the (season),” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick as Bourne also hauled in a 75-yard touchdown in a Week 6 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. “He made a great catch and run here and I thought Jakobi made a really timely block on the sideline to kind of get KB down there and KB ran well on the sideline, didn't go out of bounds, fought for the extra yards. Had a nice stiff arm. Finished the run, so that was it.

“It was a great play by KB. He's done that a few times. Those explosive plays are just such game-changers.”

New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne runs for a touchdown past Tennessee Titans inside linebacker Jayon Brown  during the second half at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on Nov. 28, 2021.
New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne runs for a touchdown past Tennessee Titans inside linebacker Jayon Brown during the second half at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on Nov. 28, 2021.

The highlight-reel score was Bourne’s second touchdown grab of the game as he finished with five receptions for 61 yards.

Bourne helped the Patriots set the tone in the victory by coming through with an eye-popping snag to cap New England’s opening drive of the contest with a touchdown. Facing third-and-goal from the four-yard line, Jones lofted a throw to Bourne in the corner of the end zone and Bourne managed to secure the pass with safety Kevin Byard draped all over him and get both feet down before getting pushed out of bounds.

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“Just a great play call by (offensive coordinator) Josh (McDaniels),” Bourne said. “Mac, he has the decision to go either side. We got the look we wanted, and just kind of ran a good route. He threw a good ball. I always say it was a really good ball. It’s just a good play by me. Getting my feet down was the biggest thing. I don’t know how I did it, but shout out to the team for making it happen.”

New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne makes a touchdown catch against Tennessee Titans free safety Kevin Byard  in the first quarter at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on Nov. 28, 2021.
New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne makes a touchdown catch against Tennessee Titans free safety Kevin Byard in the first quarter at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on Nov. 28, 2021.

In 12 games this season, Bourne, who has 42 receptions for 623 yards, has matched his career-high for touchdowns in a single campaign with five. Bourne has assimilated into the Patriots' offensive system well, not always an easy task for wide receivers.

Bourne noted how the coaching staff has aided in his progress and helped him make improvements, right down to how Bourne carries the football.

“I’m totally different,” said Bourne, who has one fumble on the season, about his ball security. “When I first came in, I was swinging the ball everywhere, kind of playing my style of play, and (Belichick) corrected it fast. He taught me to keep the ball high and tight at all times and eventually my body just started adjusting to keeping the ball right here. It’s just about securing the ball, having ball security.

“We emphasize no turnovers, so it’s just a blessing that I can improve in different ways and be versatile for this team. It’s just dope how they’re developing me.”

New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne reacts after his touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in the second half at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on Nov. 28, 2021.
New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne reacts after his touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in the second half at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on Nov. 28, 2021.

It’s starting to come as no surprise that Bourne gives the Patriots a jolt on the field. His teammates have routinely commented on the high amount of energy he brings to the team.

And that spark has helped to awaken a Patriots offense that has found its rhythm after some early-season struggles.

“KB is like the Energizer Bunny, man,” said Patriots center David Andrews. “I think he’s like a Labrador. Golden Retriever-like. I’ve had those dogs before. They’re just always happy, you know? Even when you kind of correct them or get onto them, they’re just like, ‘Alright. Yeah. Yeah. I’ll get it done.’ KB’s been awesome. Love having to work with him. Been a lot of fun to play with.”

This article originally appeared on The Enterprise: Kendrick Bourne providing spark to Patriots offense

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