Bailey Zappe can't pull out miracle win in debut against Aaron Rodgers, Packers


It was never impossible for the Patriots to beat the Packers, regardless of what the odds suggested. It was just seemingly improbable and would have been so even with Mac Jones on the field.

Then, when Brian Hoyer went down in the first quarter with a head injury after a solid start to the game and Bailey Zappe had to come in, it felt like New England might be in for a long game.

But the Patriots then went on to show what they've demonstrated all summer and fall: they're no pushovers. They just couldn't take it that last step needed to earn a shocking win.

Bill Belichick's crew put forward one of their grittiest performances in years on Sunday but couldn't squeeze out the win against Green Bay, falling 27-24 in overtime on a game-winning field goal by Mason Crosby.

The Patriots got a possession in the extra period with a chance to win on a field goal of their own, but the drive stalled outside Nick Folk's range.

With the loss, New England falls to 1-3 with major questions about their depth at quarterback with Mac Jones' (ankle) and Brian Hoyer's (head) statuses unknown going forward. But at the least, they know their young quarterback and the rest of their team can hold their own in a pinch.

Bailey Zappe fights hard, comes up short in first game

This was not at all the way the Patriots wanted to see Bailey Zappe get into an NFL game. But he played admirably regardless of the result.

New England kept it relatively simple for him, and the rookie responded with a 10-of-15 outing for 99 yards, his career touchdown pass and a passer rating of 107.4. But he also lost a fumble and took three sacks -- most, if not all of which, were on him holding the ball too long.

He also was responsible for a delay-of-game penalty in the red zone directly before his touchdown pass and should've been flagged for another on the play itself (not that the Patriots will complain about it being missed).

Zappe has repeatedly shown he can rebound from shaky starts, whether it be in training camp or in preseason games, and he did just that after a shaky couple of throws at the beginning of his debut. All in all, you couldn't ask for much more from the kid when pressed into emergency service. He just couldn't come up with that crucial third down in overtime to keep the chance of a field goal alive, which would've been quite the story.

The question now is whether or not the Patriots will have to give him the start next week if Jones and Hoyer can't go. In any case, he's almost certain to get plenty of practice reps so he can be a bit better prepared for next time.

Jack Jones: The Playmaker that was Promised?

On his first drive as an NFL starting cornerback, Jack Jones ripped the ball out of rookie Packers receiver Romeo Doubs and recovered the ball for a takeaway.

Then, just before halftime, Jones swiped an Aaron Rodgers throw for a pick-six to give the Patriots a lead before the break.

The ball-hawking rookie defensive back literally won the turnover margin in this game (2-1) by himself.

We'd seen the glimpses of it throughout training camp -- his willingness to gamble and jump routes -- put him in position to make several plays in practice and in preseason, though it also led to him getting out of position once or twice. With that in mind, it felt like a sure thing that Rodgers would test Jones to see if he could catch the rookie peeking in the backfield.

But Jones was nails early on when Rodgers threw his way, and his nose for the football gave New England just the boost they needed to stay in the game. But he did get victimized for giving too much cushion on Green Bay's game-winning drive, first on a downfield throw to Allen Lazard and then on a quick throw into the flat that got the Packers into field-goal range.

The rookie might not be able to tackle that well, but boy can he play the football in the air. Don't be surprised to see him get more opportunities even once Jalen Mills returns to action.

Patriots can't keep Rodgers away in the end

As rough as things looked for Rodgers and the Packers' offense in the first half, including the pick-six to Jones, you knew it wouldn't last forever.

The Patriots' offense did enough to keep them in the game against the all-time great quarterback, mustering two second-half touchdowns with Zappe at the helm. But they didn't do enough to steal the game from Rodgers, who has seen this situation and succeeded more times than you can count.

Throughout the game, especially early, the Green Bay quarterback simply missed throws he doesn't usually, and the Patriots were able to at least contain the dynamic running back duo of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon.

But Rodgers (21-of-35 passing, 215 yards, 2 TDs, INT), Jones (16 carries for 110 yards) and Dillion (17 carries for 73 yards) got the train moving after halftime, putting up 20 points in the second half and overtime. The Packers also almost knocked the Patriots out in the fourth quarter on a late throw to Doubs, who couldn't hold onto the potential game-winning touchdown after Jonathan Jones recovered to bring him to the ground.

In the end, though, you can only delay the inevitable for so long, and the Patriots' defense simply ran out of gas against one of the best quarterbacks to ever do it.