FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Rex Burkhead’s best day of the 2019 season didn’t start that way.

On the fourth play of the game, the veteran New England Patriots’ running back had turned a short pass from Tom Brady into a long gain when Jordan Poyer punched the ball out of his hands. Micah Hyde recovered and the Bills turned the short field into a field goal and a 3-0 lead.

But the costly early cough-up dented neither Burkhead’s confidence nor New England’s confidence in him. He had a 6-yard run and a 4-yard reception on the next drive and rolled from there in the 24-17 win.

If his first time touching the ball was the Patriots’ worst offensive play, his last touch was their best.

With the Patriots trailing 17-16 with just over 5 minutes left, Burkhead took the handoff on first-and-goal from the 1 and ran toward the right side of the line. The first defender bounced Burkhead backward where a set of hands grabbed his ankles.

But he kept his legs moving and quickly pulled free and blasted into the end zone. He emphatically spiked the ball and yelled as the Patriots pulled ahead 24-17 after the ensuing 2-point conversion.

“That was just emotion coming out I guess,” he said.

Coach Bill Belichick tipped his cap.

“I thought Rex’s touchdown was an outstanding run, showed great balance,” he said. “So, yep, he’s a good receiver, good runner, plays for us in the kicking game – I mean, he’s a solid four-down player.”

Burkhead finished with four catches for a team-high 77 yards to go with his five carries for 20 yards. That’s more total yards than the last three games combined and almost as many as he had in the month of November.

Burkhead said winning is winning no matter how he contributes.

“I’m going with the flow. Whatever role they want me in, I’m happy to do that,” he said. “As long as we’re having success and moving forward, I’m just going to do whatever I can to help the team win.”

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