New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones had one of the best statistical performances of his young career in Sunday's season opener vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. His valiant effort nearly propelled the Patriots to a comeback victory over the reigning NFC champions.
Despite there being plenty of positives to take away from New England's 25-20 loss, Jones was in no mood to look at the bright side. The third-year signal-caller took the blame for the team falling into an early 16-0 hole, and he was hard on himself for failing to capitalize on opportunities late in the fourth quarter.
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“Not good by me," Jones said during his postgame press conference. "They gave me the ball twice to win the game, and I couldn’t do it. I’ve just got to go back and watch and see what I can do better, but as the quarterback, that hurts, right? You get a chance to win the game twice and can’t do it.
“So, just gotta learn from it. You only get so many opportunities in the NFL to do that, and I felt like I definitely let the team down. At the most critical times, I played my worst. So just gotta go back and look and see what I can do better. That's all you can do is learn. That's what you do as a good quarterback. You go back and learn. And when it's the hardest, that's when you need to play your best."
Jones' biggest mistake came on his fourth pass attempt of the day. His errant throw bounced off wide receiver Kendrick Bourne's hands and into the arms of Eagles cornerback Darius Slay, who returned it 70 yards for a touchdown.
Jones made up for his miscue with a brilliant second quarter in which he completed 10 consecutive passes, including touchdown throws to tight end Hunter Henry and Bourne that cut the deficit to two points. The Patriots' defense kept it close from there, and Jones had a chance to complete the comeback after safety Jabrill Peppers forced a Jalen Hurts fumble to give New England the ball in Philadelphia territory late in the final frame.
The comeback effort ultimately fell just short, and Jones is accepting responsibility for the tally being put in the loss column.
"Just gotta be better," he said. "Definitely came back and had a chance to win the game a few times, so just felt like I let the defense down and I'll have to live with that."
Jones' performance should at least inspire some optimism heading into Week 2. The 2021 first-rounder notched the first 300-yard, three-touchdown performance of his career. His 35 completions and 54 pass attempts marked career highs. He put up those numbers despite missing his starting guards Cole Strange and Mike Onwenu, starting right tackle Riley Reiff, and one of his top receivers DeVante Parker.
He'll hope to duplicate the effort -- albeit with better results -- next Sunday night against the Miami Dolphins.