FOXBORO -- The Patriots were absolutely throttled by the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, a game that featured both Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe at quarterback for New England.
But it didn't really matter who was under center for the Patriots. Just when it seemed like Bill Belichick's team was turning a corner, the Pats suffered what could be a devastating defeat on Monday night.
While Zappe gave the team a much-needed spark when he replaced Jones in the second quarter, it wasn't enough for the Patriots. The New England defense struggled to stop anything and the offense couldn't keep pace, as the Pats suffered a disappointing 33-14 loss to drop back under .500 on the season.
"We never at any point played good football," captain Devin McCourty said following the loss, adding it didn't matter who played quarterback. "They were on us for 60 minutes and that's why the game looked the way it did."
Jones got the start for his first action since suffering an ankle injury in Week 3, but he did not last long. Jones and the Patriots punted away their first two possessions as they failed to get a first down on either of them. The Bears, meanwhile, scored on both of their first two drives, kicking a 42-yard field goal on their first possession before embarking on a seven-play, 56-yard touchdown drive capped off by a three-yard touchdown scramble by Fields to take a 10-0 lead 13 minutes into the game.
Chicago was 2-for-3 on third down on their first two drives. Quarterback Justin Fields completed five of his first six passes -- including a 19-yarder to former Patriots first-round pick N'Keal Harry -- for 70 yards to open the game.
The Patriots finally picked up a first down on their third possession on a Jones scramble, but the quarterback made a terrible deep throw to Jonnu Smith later in the drive that was picked off by Chicago's Jaquan Brisker. That was his final pass of the night, as Jones finished 3-for-6 for 13 yards and the interception.
Zappe replaced Jones on New England's next possession, and immediately led the Patriots on a scoring drive. On just his fourth play of the game, Zappe connected with Jakobi Meyers for a 30-yard touchdown strike to make it a 10-7 game. After Myles Bryant picked off Justin Fields, Zappe went deep for DeVante Parker, who won a jump ball for a 43-yard connection. A few plays later, Stevenson went into the end zone untouched from four yards out to put the Pats on top 14-10.
That was the last time New England fans had anything to celebrate on Monday night.
The Bears took the lead back just ahead of halftime with a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive. After picking up a first down with his legs on a third-and-5, Fields went short to Khalil Herbert with a screen, and the running back went in untouched for a 25-yard touchdown to give Chicago a 17-14 lead.
The Bears added to that lead, turning a Meyers fumble off a bad handoff into a field goal as time expired to head into the locker room with a 20-14 advantage.
The Bears added another field goal out of halftime to take a 23-14 lead. The Patriots went three-and-out and punted away their first possession of the second half after Zappe had a pass tipped at the line on second down and was sacked on third down. Chicago went on another field goal drive on their ensuing possession.
Following another New England three-and-out, and a 27-yard return by the Bears off a 33-yard punt by Jake Bailey, Chicago had to drive just 39 yards to take a commanding 33-14 lead off a David Montgomery one-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. The Bears ran all over the New England defense on Monday night, picking up 243 on the ground. Fields had 82 yards and a touchdown on the ground, while also completing 13 of his 21 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown.
Chicago was 11-for-18 on third down, as the Bears did just about anything they wanted against the New England defense. They had the ball for nearly 15 minutes more than the Patriots.
Zappe finished his night 14-for-22 for 185 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. The Patriots did not score any points after halftime, with New England's four second-half drives ending in a pair of punts and two Zappe interceptions.
Chicago scored points on five straight drives and seven of their first nine drives in the game. The Bears punted just twice on Monday night.
The loss drops the Patriots to 3-4 on the season, and now Bill Belichick and company have to pay a visit to the 5-2 New York Jets in Week 8. We'll hear plenty about the QB controversy in New England leading up to that important divisional matchup.
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