GREEN BAY, Wis — Despite being 9.5-point underdogs and down to their third-string quarterback, the Patriots walked into Lambeau Field on Sunday and brought the Packers to overtime. They even held a fourth-quarter lead with Mac Jones watching from home in New England.
It wasn’t good enough in the end, however, as Green Bay earned a 27-24 win thanks to a Mason Crosby game-winning kick as time expired in overtime.
Rookie Bailey Zappe more than held his own in relief of backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, who exited in the first quarter with a head injury. The rookie signal-caller completed 10 of 15 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown, good for a 107.4 rating.
On the other side, Rodgers shook off an ugly first half to go 21-for-35 for 251 yards and two touchdowns to go along with one interception. Receiver Adam Lazard caught six balls on eight targets for 116 yards.
The Patriots dropped to 1-3 with the loss while the Packers improved to 3-1 with the win.
It was a heartbreaking defeat for Bill Belichick’s team, which put up an admirable fight. Here are three studs and three duds for New England from a wild night in Green Bay.
CB Jack Jones
The rookie wasn’t perfect, and he showed he still has a long way to go as a tackler despite finishing with seven. But, it’s hard to do better in your first NFL start than forcing a fumble, recovering the same fumble and getting a pick-six against Rodgers. Jones is fearless, scrappy and has the potential to develop into a legitimate playmaker on the Patriots defense.
RB Damien Harris
Harris ran hard all day, finishing with 18 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots needed their running backs to play well in this game, and Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson both delivered. While Stevenson occasionally looks like New England’s feature back of the future, if not the present, Harris is still a very good player in his own right.
QB Bailey Zappe
Zappe did everything he could in this game and nearly outdueled Aaron Rodgers. It looked like the Patriots were heading for disaster after Hoyer left the game, but Zappe played well and helped his team force overtime. Sure, he made some rookie mistakes, but the fourth-round pick did everything his team could’ve asked for — and more.
Honorable mentions: Rhamondre Stevenson, Trent Brown, Nelson Agholor
LT Isaiah Wynn
It’s fair to wonder whether Wynn’s Patriots career is nearing its unofficial end. The 2018 first-round pick had a truly disastrous first half, allowing one quarterback hit, surrendering two sacks and committing two penalties, one of which was declined. The first sack forced Hoyer from the game and the second led to a Zappe fumble. Wynn was temporarily benched in the second half for Marcus Cannon, who was elevated from the practice squad Saturday.
It was ugly without defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, who missed the game with a shoulder injury. Packers running back Aaron Jones racked up 110 yards on only 16 carries, with A.J. Dillon adding 73 yards on 17 carries. It was too easy in the run game for Green Bay throughout the game, but especially in the second half.
The struggles continue. The Patriots entered the game with one of the worst special teams units in the NFL, and the first half showed why. New England committed two special teams penalties in the half, with Jake Bailey sending two punts into the end zone. Bailey also had another rough punt late in the fourth quarter. One bright spot: rookie corner Marcus Jones showed high-end skill as both a punt returner and a kickoff returner.
Honorable mentions: Jonathan Jones, Deatrich Wise, Mack Wilson, Hunter Henry, Ja’Whaun Bentley