BOSTON -- Mac Jones didn't do anything well on Sunday, aside from accepting the blame for New England's 38-3 loss to the Cowboys. The quarterback threw a pair of interceptions and lost a fumble -- with two of those turnovers leading to Cowboys touchdowns -- in Dallas, and found himself on the bench in the third quarter.
Jones lived on the edge all day on Sunday, and it eventually caught up to him. The Cowboys took advantage of his lack of ball security as he rolled out of the pocket to buy some extra time early in the second quarter, leading to an easy strip and scoop-and-score for Dallas.
And after he got away with one dangerous pass, resulting in a cross-field pass to Kendrick Bourne for a first down, Jones threw another near-identical pass a few plays later. But the Cowboys were ready for that one, and DaRon Bland casually picked it off and even more casually waltzed into the end zone for a 54-yard pick-six. It was a reckless and careless pass by Jones.
Those two massive mistakes put the Patriots in a 28-3 hole at halftime. Considering the Patriots offense is lucky to even sniff the 20s, it seemed like a 100-3 hole for New England
It seemed as though Jones continued to lose confidence as the game went on, but continued to take risks that bit him and the Patriots. He threw yet another interception to Bland to end New England's first possession of the second half. The Pats went three-and-out on their second possession, which ended the quarterback's afternoon. .
Jones created his own problems with his decision-making, and it led to an embarrassing loss for the Patriots.
"For me, just not good enough. Wasn't my day," Jones said at the podium after the worst loss of Bill Belichick's coaching career. "Can't turn the ball over like that when you're trying to beat good teams. I'm definitely disappointed in myself and feel I can play a lot better. I have to to beat good teams."
Asked why he benched Jones for Bailey Zappe with 3:41 to play in the third quarter, Belichick would only say: "I didn't think there was any point to leave him in the game." He did so four times when peppered with questions about his quarterback.
That was his response when asked if Jones would be the team's starter when the Patriots return home to host the New Orleans Saints in Week 5. Jones said that he won't let the outside noise -- or his putrid performance on Sunday -- derail what the team is trying to build.
"It will be a good test for me, trying to stay focused on what I can control and that's playing better. I just have to evaluate everything," said Jones, who completed 12 of his 21 passes Sunday for 150 yards. "It wasn't my day today and hopefully there are better days ahead."
Jones said he will watch film Monday, learn from his mistakes and then move on. But in the moment, Jones feels awful for letting a rough start spiral into a terrible game on Sunday.
"I feel really bad that I let my team down, the coaches down, the whole organization and the fans," he said. "I have to put a better product out there to beat good teams. I'm going to take the positive route as best as I can and hopefully it brings the best out of me."
While the Patriots' defense has been fairly stout over the first month of the season, the offense has completely let the team down. But players on both sides of the ball expressed their belief in Jones after Sunday's loss.
"I'm very confident in Mac. He's a worker and a competitor. He tries to make plays, and when you try to make plays it doesn't always go your way," said captain Deatrich Wise. "We're still behind him. We'll still be behind him tomorrow an the day after that. I believe in him 100 percent."
"That's my guy. I support him and think everyone will. None of us are happy and we all have to be better," said tight end Hunter Henry.
"I don't think any of us played or were coached well enough to be competitive today," Belichick said when asked about Jones' decision-making against the Cowboys.
There were signs of growth from Jones as the Patriots lost close games in Weeks 1 and 2 to the Eagles and Dolphins, respectively. But Jones had costly interceptions in each of them, and after Sunday's two-pick day, he's up to four completions to the opposition for the year.
If Jones continues to make costly errors, the fans crying for Zappe will only grow louder, even though Zappe did nothing when he was on the field Sunday. But if Jones keeps playing the way that he did Sunday, the Patriots may not have a choice but to make a change.
What's the best way for Jones and the rest of the team to get some confidence back?
"We just need to go out and play well," said Belichick.
That has to start next week against the Saints. Otherwise, it's going to be a long and stressful football season in New England.
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