FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 24: Rhamondre Stevenson #38 of the New England Patriots runs the ball during the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
With the offensive line struggling, this was not a productive game for Rhamondre Stevenson. He carried the ball 13 times for just 30 yards, and caught two of his five targets for a total of three yards.
Running behind an offensive line that is struggling to produce holes is nothing new to Stevenson. However, part of what’s made him so great this year is he’s created chances on his own even when nothing is given to him up front. That ability seems to have waned in recent weeks though.
Why? His workload may be catching up with him. Stevenson, in just his second year in the league after playing just 12 games as a rookie, was ninth in the NFL in touches (carries plus catches) heading into this game, and already has 100 more touches than he had last year.
For the most part, Stevenson has downplayed the increased workload taking a physical toll. But, he suggested that was the case after the game on Saturday telling reporters, “I’m a little banged up, but that’s NFL football. I’ve got to be ready for moments like this. I’m good though.”
Stevenson was also involved in one of the pivotal plays of the game, fumbling inside the 10 yard line as the Patriots were going in for what would have been a go-ahead score in the final minute. He took full responsibility for the play, saying after the game, “[I] got the ball, was trying to make something happen. Probably doing more than I was supposed to do. Probably should have just went down. Ultimately they took the ball from me and I fumbled.”
This is the second week in a row Stevenson has been involved in a costly late-game turnover, as he made the first lateral in last week’s debacle. So far he’s owned it all, but it’s been a polarizing two weeks for a player who has been the team’s best offensive playmaker for the bulk of the season.