“I’ve got to do a better job.”
That’s the line Brian Hoyer repeated over and over Monday night after his two red-zone gaffes helped doom the New England Patriots in a 26-10 loss to the heavily favored Kansas City Chiefs.
Making his first start in a Patriots uniform but his 39th at the NFL level, the 34-year-old quarterback took a boneheaded sack on the final play of the first half and ended another promising drive with a lost fumble on third down.
These plays occurred at Kansas City’s 13- and 10-yard lines, respectively, with the Chiefs nursing a narrow 6-3 lead. A simple incompletion in either instance would have set up Nick Folk for a chip-shot field-goal try.
?I cost us at least six points, so I?ve got to do a better job there,” Hoyer, who got the nod after usual starter Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, said in his postgame video conference. “… (There were) definitely missed opportunities there.”
On the sack at the end of the first half, Hoyer appeared to believe the Patriots had a timeout remaining, unaware they’d exhausted their final one two plays earlier.
?I just had a mental error that,” he said. “We had a chance to throw at the end zone, everyone was off and covered, and I?ve just got to throw it away. …
“(Offensive coordinator) Josh (McDaniels) said to me in the helmet, ?Let?s take a shot, and no bad plays.? I looked, and I knew I was in the pocket, so I didn?t want to intentionally ground. I?ve just got to do a better job of just throwing it over someone?s head.”
On the strip-sack, Hoyer held the ball for close to four seconds in the pocket before being slammed from behind by defensive end Taco Charlton, who’d maneuvered around rookie right tackle Justin Herron.
?It was just trying to step up,” Hoyer said. “Obviously, we?re in field goal range, and I was getting ready to throw it, and (I?ve) just got to do a better job of protecting the football.?
The Chiefs, flummoxed by the Patriots’ defense to that point, turned Hoyer’s giveaway into seven points, marching 85 yards in seven plays for their first touchdown of the night. When the Patriots’ offense returned to the field with seconds remaining in the third quarter, backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham was behind center.
Stidham threw a touchdown pass on his first drive but later tossed two interceptions, one of which bounced off receiver Julian Edelman’s hands for a pick-six. The second-year pro completed 5 of 13 passes for 60 yards in his first taste of meaningful NFL action.
Hoyer delivered a few impressive completions to Edelman and Damiere Byrd and scrambled for a first down on third-and-6, but his final line was similarly uninspiring: 15-for-24, 130 yards, no touchdowns, one interception.
“It?s disappointing,” Hoyer said of his benching. “You never want to get taken out of a game. But Coach made a decision, and I understand. Two bad decisions down in the red area really cost us points. So it?s frustrating. It?s disappointing. I?ve got to do a better job.”
The circumstances of this weekend, with Newton testing positive after the Patriots’ final practice of the week, placed Hoyer in an unfavorable position. The journeyman signal-caller downplayed these factors, however, saying they don’t excuse his mistakes.
Will he get a chance to redeem himself this Sunday against the Denver Broncos? That remains to be seen.
“I mean, look, it is what it is,” Hoyer said. “I think a lot of people in 2020 are dealing with a lot of crazy things, ups and downs. Look, we signed up for this. This is the way it played out, and regardless of the situation, that had nothing to do with those two plays.
“I?ve just got to do a better job.”