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Mac Jones defends Bill Belichick, Patriots’ offensive line

Rookie Mac Jones went 31-of-40 passing in New England’s loss to Tampa Bay.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

While all the attention in the world was focused on Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, a top-ranked defense had their eyes locked onto another target Sunday night: New England Patriots rookie Mac Jones.

In a continuing theme, Jones was hit 12 times against Tampa Bay — a new season high. Appearing on WEEI’s “Merloni & Fauria” Monday, New England’s quarterback acknowledged getting hit is something that is going to happen in football games.

“I think it’s just part of the game,” Jones explained. “Like backyard football, you're going to get hit. That’s kind of the fun part of it. You just roll with the punches and get up.”

On the year, Jones has been hit a combined 32 times in the Patriots’ three losses, while being hit just twice in the lone win over the New York Jets. While the offensive line — which has been without right tackle Trent Brown for all but seven snaps — has taken much of the blame, Jones says he is part of the problem.

“A lot of the stuff — I always say this, and I'm not saying it to just say it, but I can do a better job of whether it’s moving or getting the ball out or just committing to the throw, whatever the throw may be,” Jones told WEEI. “Just learning from those hits. The offensive line played well — actually really good. Of course you’re going to get hit sometimes when a team’s going to pressure more, and you’ve just got to roll with the punches.”

Despite constant pressure throughout the night at Gillette Stadium, Jones played perhaps his best professional game on the biggest stage of his young career, outplaying the legend on the other side of the field in terms of both traditional stats and advanced metrics. He put the Patriots in a position to win the game, but his third-down pass to a wide open Jakobi Meyers was batted down at the line of scrimmage on New England’s final drive.

“The last minute of the game, we were one or two plays away,” Jones said. “We said that over and over that’s what it comes down to. If the guy doesn’t put his hand up, or whatever happens, and the ball doesn’t get tipped, it’s just a totally different game. It sucks, but it’s part of football. It’s not always going to go your way, but you’ve got to just keep moving forward and try and get some wins on the board.”

After the failed pass to Meyers, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick opted for a 56-yard field goal on fourth-and-3 — which kicker Nick Folk clanked off the left upright.

Jones had no issues with the decision to call for a field goal with 59 seconds remaining.

“[Coach Belichick] makes the right decisions most all the time. We’re going to stick behind his decision no matter what,” he said. “If we were going to go for it, we’d be fine. We decided to kick it and it is what it is.”

The Patriots will look to keep Mac clean and get back into the win column next week against the Houston Texans.

Follow Brian on Twitter @iambrianhines!