New England Patriots

Bailey Zappe reacts to Patriots' costly turnovers in loss vs. Bills

Four turnovers put the Patriots in an early hole that was too difficult to overcome.

NBC Universal, Inc.

The New England Patriots made tremendous progress in regards to ball security over the last three weeks. They committed just three turnovers during that span.

That improvement came to a screeching halt in Sunday's Week 17 road game against the Buffalo Bills. The Patriots turned the ball over four times, and three of them happened during their first seven plays, with the Bills turning those mistakes into 13 quick points.

The Patriots' fourth turnover came early in the second quarter. It was a pick-6 by Zappe -- his third interception of the game -- that increased the Bills' lead to 20-7.

New England's offense took care of the ball the rest of the afternoon, but the damage had already been done. The Patriots kept the score close in the second half and lost 27-21.

“It’s hard, but in that moment of time, you’re kind of like, ‘Hey, we’ve got a long way to go. Got a lot more drives, got a lot more opportunities. Go down there and score.’ Kind of flush it and kind of forget about it,” Zappe told reporters when asked about the turnovers in his postgame press conference.

“It’s football. Things like that are going to happen. You’re going to have turnovers. You’re going to throw three interceptions in a game. But it’s just how you respond. It’s how you come back in that next series and how you play. I felt like we did great as an offense in the second half coming back. We kind of flushed everything and we came out together and played a great second half. It just wasn’t enough because of what we did in the first half.”

Zappe finished with 16 completions on 26 attempts for 209 yards with zero touchdowns and three interceptions. His streak of three consecutive games with a touchdown pass was snapped. He also has committed six turnovers (five interceptions, one fumble) in five games as the starting quarterback this season.

🔊 Patriots Talk: Too many ‘ifs and buts’ as Patriots busted by Bills | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

The offense has definitely looked better under Zappe. The passing attack has featured more passes deep downfield. The Patriots have scored 20-plus points in three of Zappe's five starts after reaching the 20-point mark just twice in 11 games with Mac Jones as the starter.

Zappe also has shown a better ability than Jones at evading the pass rush and picking up yards with his legs. He tallied 37 rushing yards against the Bills, including an impressive 17-yard touchdown run in the second quarter after sidestepping the oncoming pass rush.

There are many reasons why the Patriots own a 4-12 record and sit at the bottom of the AFC standings, and turnovers are near the top of that list. The Patriots' 19 interceptions are the second-most in the league, and their 27 turnovers in total are the sixth-most of any team. New England's minus-10 turnover differential is the second-worst in the league.

Protecting the football, particularly at the quarterback position, needs to be a top priority for the Patriots in the offseason.

Contact Us