“I don’t think you can ask for more from a guy. But every week, we do. And he delivers.”

Marcus Jones carries the ball against the Bengals. Winslow Townson/Getty Images

In high school football, it’s not uncommon for a player to contribute at a high level in all three phases. In college, it’s much rarer. In the NFL, it’s almost unheard of.

It’s even less common to see it from a rookie, but that’s exactly what ultra-versatile blossoming star Marcus Jones has done for the Patriots.

Jones ran an interception back 69 yards for a touchdown, recovered a fumble, led New England with 14 tackles, and added a 15-yard reception Saturday against the Bengals. The Patriots nearly stormed all the way back from an 22-point deficit but ended up falling, 22-18, to move to 7-8 on the season.

Without Jones, they likely wouldn’t have come close.

“He’s just ridiculous,” quarterback Mac Jones said.

Jones, a 5-foot-8, 175-pound, third-round pick out of Houston, now has a receiving TD, punt return TD, and interception TD. He joins Hall of Famer Deion Sanders as only other player in the Super Bowl era to score a 40-plus yard TD each of those ways … in their entire career. Jones has done it as a rookie.

Rhamondre Stevenson, Jakobi Meyers, and Jones are the only Patriots with three or more touchdowns this year. Jones – the third player since 1955 to have a pick-6 and a reception in the same game – earned the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player in college. So far, it’s translated to the NFL.

The 24-year-old Jones drew plenty of praise from his teammates afterward for his ability to thrive as a Swiss Army Knife. Linebacker Matthew Judon credited him for always being the right place at the right time.

“I don’t think you can ask for more from a guy,” Judon said. “But every week, we do. And he delivers.”

His pick-6 brought some much-needed life to the Patriots and sparked the comeback. The interception itself was a relatively easy one, but the run back was spectacular, as Jones eluded multiple Bengals in one swift motion.

“Whenever I’ve seen him throw the ball, I was like, ‘I’ve got to get there first,’” Jones said. “Make sure I get there and catch it. Then after that, I’ve seen our whole defense basically setting up a wall and everything. I was running and seeing (Joe) Burrow as the last man. I was like, ‘Let me make sure I don’t step out.’”

Per Elias Sports Bureau, Jones became the first player in the last 45 seasons with a touchdown on offense, defense, and special teams in the same season. According to Next Gen Stats, he reached 20.7 miles per hour – the third-fastest speed by a Patriots ball carrier this year. He’s the only ball carrier to reach 20-plus on multiple plays this season.

The Patriots now have a defensive score in three straight games and six on the season, tying a franchise record.

Jones then recovered a fumble after Judon stripped wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. He was in the right place at the right time and capitalized, giving the Patriots a chance, down 22-18 with 3:12 remaining.

Jones stayed on the field following the play but said afterward that he got the wind knocked out of him and he’s OK.

Jones didn’t have a perfect game – as the Bengals caught several passes thrown his direction and he bobbled a punt late – but he helped far more than he hurt and gave them a much-needed jolt.

He said he splits his time during the week in meetings for offense, defense, and special teams and enjoys the variety that brings.

“That’s just basically how it goes,” Jones said. “I make sure I’m locked in on both sides, knowing what to do, asking questions whenever I don’t know what to do.”


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