FOXBORO, Mass. — The big boys up front made life easy for Bailey Zappe in his first NFL start.
The Patriots’ rookie quarterback was neither hit nor sacked in Sunday’s 29-0 rout of the Detroit Lions — a testament to the performance of New England’s offensive line.
After the game, Zappe said the Patriots’ starting O-linemen — left tackle Trent Brown, left guard Cole Strange, center David Andrews, right guard Mike Onwenu and right tackle Isaiah Wynn — were the “MVPs” of the team’s lopsided Week 5 win. He also included reserve tackle Marcus Cannon, who saw ample work as a jumbo tight end.
“They played amazing today,” Zappe said. “To be honest with you, all five of those guys — actually six, including Marcus Cannon, were the MVPs of today. We ran the ball well. For the offense, MVP, they ran the ball well, play-action well, kept me clean in the pocket. We were able to go through second, third reads, get to your checkdown. They played really well today. To be able to have those guys up front is amazing.”
While Zappe evaded some pressure himself — including a nifty juke to shake No. 2 overall pick Aiden Hutchinson on one play — he was largely unbothered throughout Sunday’s contest, which he started in place of an injured Mac Jones. The Lions’ lone sack was called back for an illegal contact penalty downfield.
“We’ll look at the film and see how it went, but it seemed like overall the protection was pretty good,” head coach Bill Belichick said. “Bailey was able to move up in the pocket. I think we took one sack. Generally speaking, the protection was good. It was clean. He was able to step up. That’s every quarterback’s dream.”
The Patriots’ line also excelled in the run game, paving the way for a career day by Rhamondre Stevenson. With a hamstring injury forcing Damien Harris from the game before halftime, Stevenson set career highs with 25 carries for 161 yards in the win.
O-line play was a major question mark for the Patriots during training camp, but that unit has shined in each of the team’s two victories. Jones also used the word “amazing” to describe the blocking in New England’s Week 2 win over Pittsburgh.