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New England Patriots Begin With Mac Jones But Substitute QB For Bailey Zappe Once Again

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New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones got the start in Sunday’s away game against the New York Giants, despite being benched in the previous game for a late fourth-quarter interception. However, coach Bill Belichick opted for backup Bailey Zappe to start the second half during their 10-7 loss.

Jones faced challenges in the first half, throwing two interceptions as the Patriots trailed 7-0 when Belichick decided to make the switch. Jones completed 12-of-21 passes for 89 yards in the first half, and the Giants capitalized on his second interception, turning it into the lone touchdown.

Zappe swiftly made an impact, orchestrating a 60-yard, 11-play drive for a touchdown that tied the game at 7. Operating with a shorter passing game, he completed 6-of-6 passes for 38 yards.

By the end of the game, Zappe’s stats were 9-of-14 for 54 yards and one interception. He played a crucial role in engineering a potential game-tying drive in the fourth quarter, but rookie kicker Chad Ryland missed a 35-yard field goal with 6 seconds remaining.

Belichick, assessing both quarterbacks, stated, “I thought both guys deserved to play,” but refrained from naming a starter for the upcoming game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Jones shared that offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien informed him of his benching at halftime. Belichick had not revealed his plans for the starting role during the week, emphasizing the need for everyone to be prepared at every position.

Sources disclosed that practice repetitions during the week were split roughly 50-50 between Jones and Zappe, with Jones usually taking the initial reps. The complexity of the Giants’ blitz schemes led some to believe that Jones had an edge during the week.

The Patriots, with a record of 2-8 entering Sunday, faced various challenges, including inconsistent quarterback play, contributing to their average of 14.1 points per game.

Jones had been benched in three earlier games this season, notably during a Week 10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Germany, where he threw a crucial interception, leading to Zappe taking over.

Jones entered Sunday’s game with a season stat line of 212-of-324 for 2,031 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, having been sacked 21 times. Zappe’s 2023 stats included 10-of-25 for 104 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception.

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