This is an embarrassing week to be a fan of the New England Patriots. Not only did they lose to the lowly Chicago Bears, get blown out 33-14 and have their defense get gashed by what some argue is the worst offense in the NFL, but they also did it by having both of their young quarterbacks get exposed in the process. Mac Jones made his first start in a month after he suffered a high ankle sprain against Baltimore in week three. This put Bailey Zappe back on the bench to start the game with a chance he could go in relief, because his helmet was on while he was on the sideline, which is a very unusual scene for a backup quarterback. Jones’ first two drives were three and outs, and an interception on the following drive. After being down 10-0 quickly, Bill Belichick pulled Mac from the game in favor of Zappe.
In his first two possessions, the rookie starred under the lights going 3/3 with 77 yards and two touchdowns, a truly electrifying moment for all watching. The 15 minutes of fame didn’t last long as the Patriots did not score for the rest of the game and Zappe threw two picks. On the other side of the ball New England’s run defense was absolutely putrid, allowing a staggering 243 yards on the ground to an offense that was ranked last in the NFL in points. Chicago’s QB Justin Fields ran it for 82 yards and a touchdown. David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert each had 62 to add to the total. While Fields only threw for 179 yards, that is his third-highest total of the season. Belichick will try again next week to get his win number 325 against the Jets this week.
As bad as this week was for Patriots fans it was even worse for the Buccaneers and the Packers. Tampa Bay was a 13.5-point favorite going into their matchup against Carolina but came out on the losing end 21-3. Former XFL player PJ Walker started and performed better than Tom Brady. Walker threw two touchdown passes and running back Chuba Hubbard ran in the other score. The Panthers were able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, rushing for 173 and only allowing 46 on defense to the Bucs. Brady and his offense did put up a good day in passing statistically with 290 yards, but they had only one trip to the red zone and zero touchdowns. They had good starts to drive but eventually got stagnant. Tampa was forced to punt six times and had three turnovers on downs. They fell to 3-4 as Carolina picked up their second win of the season.
The Packers have now lost three in a row as the lowly Washington Commanders outlasted Green Bay 23-21. Aaron Rodgers was very pedestrian for only leading two scoring drives with their other touchdown being a pick-six and throwing for under 200 yards. Similar to the Tampa game, the Packers could not effectively run the ball and rarely tried to, being outgained 166-38. Fifth-year QB Taylor Heineke was not remarkable, but he outperformed Rodgers and matched his two touchdowns. In 2016, Rodgers told the media to relax after their poor start to the season. In 2022, it may be time for panic in Lambeau.
The highest-scoring game of the week was the Thursday night opener with the Cardinals topping the Saints 42-34. The game was decided in the closing minutes of the first half. Cardinals running-back Keontay Ingram ran in for a two-yard touchdown with two minutes and 38 seconds left in the second quarter. New Orleans quarterback Andy Dalton threw not one but two pick-sixes on consecutive series, which turned a 14-6 New Orleans lead into a 14-point deficit within three minutes. The Cardinals cruised their way to victory, with the Saints scoring late to cut the deficit, but the final score was not indicative of the actual result. Arizona QB Kyler Murray had a modest day with passing for 204 yards and a score and picking up 30 more yards by running as his Cardinals picked up a much-needed win to keep pace in the NFC West.