In a shocking last second loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, one positive was clear for the Patriots, and that was Las Vegas native Rhamondre Stevenson, who rushed for a career-high 172 yards and scored New England's lone offensive touchdown. Besides the more than questionable lateral that started a string of absolute disaster for New England in the final moments of the game, Stevenson was a pillar of hope for the Patriots.
Stevenson has been the focal point of New England’s offense this season, rushing for 914 yards and five touchdowns, along with 381 receiving yards on 60 receptions and a touchdown. Although Stevenson was limited throughout the past week of practice leading up to the game with an ankle injury he suffered against Arizona, he remained productive.
Stevenson has been impressive since his rookie season, where he slowly made his way back into the starting lineup after being benched for a fumble in the season opener against the Dolphins. Stevenson finished his 2021 rookie season with 606 yards rushing and five touchdowns and catching 14 balls for 123 yards. With his bullish yet elusive style of running, Stevenson earned his permanent spot in the Patriots backfield, becoming a one-two punch alongside Damien Harris.
With the recent absence of Harris, Stevenson has proved to be a true bell cow, rushing for 406 yards, recording 123 receiving yards and four total touchdowns in games where Harris was inactive this season. Stevenson currently leads the team in rushing yards and touchdowns along with being fourth in receiving yards.
Before becoming the Patriots’ unofficial 2022 MVP, and before transferring to Oklahoma his junior year, Stevenson started his college career at Cerritos College, a community college in Norwalk, California. At Cerritos College, Stevenson put up 2,612 yards and 19 touchdowns, he also averaged nine yards per carry. After transferring, Stevenson dominated at Oklahoma as well in his two seasons there, rushing for 1,180 yards and 13 touchdowns as well as averaging 7.2 yards per carry. Stevenson was also a threat in the passing game at Oklahoma, much like he is for the Patriots today, putting up 298 receiving yards on 28 receptions.
When watching Stevenson's college highlights, he shows great jump cuts and lateral movement, as well as the ability to break tackles, spin out of tackles, and stiff arm defenders in the open field. Much like his NFL counterpart Harris, Stevenson has an angry, downhill style of running with quite a bit of shake and bake. Another great thing about Stevenson is that he doesn't just break tackles, stiff arm, and bull people over, when he is getting tackled, he tends to fall forward for yardage. Out of his 1,520 total yards so far with the Patriots, 1,057 of those yards have come after contact. On top of it all, the sophomore running back is very durable, with the recent ankle injury being his only one in the NFL so far, he was also very healthy throughout his college career.
At Centennial High School in Las Vegas, Stevenson was a force to be reckoned with, rushing for 1,832 yards and 19 touchdowns, while averaging 114 yards per game in his high school career. Stevenson also put up 271 receiving yards. As a junior, Stevenson was named Las Vegas Sun's High School Player of the Year.
Throughout high school, college, and the pros, Stevenson has proved to be a do-it-all back, having excellent vision, size, hands, power, strength, and quick twitch ability. To compare Stevenson to an NFL back of the past/ former Patriots back, he is like a more slippery, faster version of LeGarrette Blount with better hands. Not too bad. At the combine, Stevenson’s measurables were impressive, standing at six feet and weighing 227 pounds. Although Stevenson did not participate in the 40-yard dash, it is obvious that he has impressive speed for his size.
Stevenson and the Patriots are now in the hot seat for the playoffs after the devastating loss in Vegas. New England will now likely have to win out to have a hope of making the playoffs, and that starts with the Bengals coming into Foxboro on Christmas Eve. With the Bengals coming off an intimidating win over the Buccaneers, it seems like they are putting things together at the right time. There is no doubt that the Patriots will be looking for another big game out of Stevenson, facing a Bengals team that is very capable of scoring into the thirties.
In a season that hasnt had very smooth sailing, fans can still draw positives from this team, with the last three drafts yielding not only Stevenson who was drafted with the 15th pick in the fourth round of the 2021 draft, but other impact players such as recently activated Christian Barmore, Marcus Jones, Josh Uche, and Kyle Dugger, who had a pick-six in the loss. The jury may still be out on players such as Mac Jones and Jack Jones among others for now, but so far there seems to be some young players who are starting to emerge despite the difficulties of this season so far. Stevenson is definitely among the top of the Patriots' young talents.
Make sure to check out fansonlysportz.com for your local sports updates!