After three drives, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick saw enough of Mac Jones in his first game in three weeks, as Bailey Zappe came in and immediately made an impact on Monday night.
Belichick made the call for Jones to start this game after he and Zappe split first-team reps at practice during the week until Saturday when Jones took all of them. It was the first time he’s played since suffering a high ankle sprain against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3.
The rust was clear for Jones early in the game, as the Patriots went three-and-out on their first two drives. But Jones got something going on the third drive and the Patriots seemed to be in business.
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Until he made a costly mistake.
Jones tried floating a pass to tight end Jonnu Smith, but Chicago Bears safety Jaquan Brisker read it like a book and made a nice one-handed snag for the interception to flip the field.
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After that, Belichick went to Zappe, who has helped the Patriots stay afloat while Jones rehabbed his ankle. In fact, Zappe’s first two NFL starts were wins, as he came off a 309-yard performance with two touchdowns against the Cleveland Browns last week.
The Gillette Stadium crowd was already calling for Zappe when Jones began to struggle, and when he got under center, the crowd erupted.
Zappe fed off that and made a statement with a four-play drive that resulted in a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jakobi Meyers to get the Patriots on the board.
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Then, after the Patriots intercepted Bears quarterback Justin Fields, Zappe found DeVante Parker down the left sideline for 43 yards that set up another touchdown, a four-yard run by running back Rhamondre Stevenson.
The move by the Patriots to move to Zappe didn’t seem to be based on Jones’ ankle, especially when watching him scramble for yardage. He had three carries for 24 yards, which leads the Patriots in rushing at halftime.
New England was down early to the 2-4 Bears, and they wanted to see what Zappe can do. He finished the first half with 109 yards on 5-for-6 through the air, as the Bears own a 20-14 lead.