Mac Jones went 31-of-40 through the air for 275 yards Sunday night at Gillette Stadium against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The rookie quarterback under center for the New England Patriots would find safety Antoine Winfield Jr. for an interception under de-cleating duress from linebacker Devin White. He would also find tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith for touchdowns out of play action.
All arrived in what became a 19-17 New England loss as kicker Nick Folk’s attempt from 56 yards out hit the left upright with a minute remaining.
“We could be 90 percent or 85 percent and you lose, so we don’t really do moral victories,” Jones told reporters during his postgame press conference. “Those are always forgotten. But you just kind of have to take it for what it’s worth and move on.”
The No. 15 overall pick out of Alabama completed 19 consecutive passes on the evening. But it was an evening in which the Patriots’ offense accounted for minus-one rushing yards on eight carries to go with four sacks and a pair of turnovers.
“I think we moved in the right direction. We made plays and played hard the whole game,” said Jones. “I turned the ball over. That’s one of the problems. Turnovers can kill you, and if you don’t turn the ball over, you have a 90-something percent chance to win. It’s just statistics. But I thought we moved the ball passing well. The run game needs to improve, and we’ll come up with ways to do that. I thought everyone fought really hard. It sucks we lost.”
The Patriots stand with a 1-3 record on the season with Tom Brady’s return to Foxborough now in the rearview.
The age gap between the pair of starting quarterbacks set an NFL record.
“After the game, just got a chance to congratulate him on the win,” the 23-year-old Jones said of the 44-year-old Brady. “He’s a great quarterback and he played well tonight. That’s pretty much all there was to it. He just told me to keep my head up and keep working.”
The Patriots travel to NRG Stadium to face the Houston Texans next Sunday.
“I think just focus on what’s important now,” added Jones. “That’s kind of what I tell myself. On Tuesday, that was practice. On Wednesday, it was practice. Thursday, practice. Friday, practice. So, I just try to focus on how I can get better from the past week. Everything else is a distraction. I just try to block the noise and everyone on our team tries to block the noise. I wish I played a little better so that we could’ve won, but it is what it is. Hats off to the other football team for getting the win.”