Patriots

‘I just have to learn from those errors’: Mac Jones threw first 3 interceptions of his career vs. Saints

"I've worked a lot on just playing the next play."

Mac Jones interceptions
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones runs during the second half of an NFL football game. AP Photo/Steven Senne

At some point, Mac Jones was going to throw the first, second, and third interceptions of his career.

Unfortunately for the Patriots, who lost to the Saints 28-13 on Sunday, Jones waited until Week 3 and then checked off all three.

Jones finished Sunday’s game 30-for-51 as a passer with 270 yards, and his first two interceptions were both costly.

The first came late in the second quarter. Facing heavy pressure near midfield, Jones tried to get the ball away but took a hit as he threw. P.J. Williams grabbed the fluttering ball and ran all the way to the 9-yard line before he was brought down. He fumbled, but the Saints recovered it and Marquez Calloway hauled a seven-yard pass from Jameis Winston a few plays later that gave them a 14-0 advantage.

The second interception was the first play of the second half. Jones lined up and fired a pass to Jonnu Smith, who bobbled the ball and lost it in the air. Malcolm Jenkins snagged it and jogged into the end zone for an easy pick-six.

Jones’s final interception was inconsequential — a deep pass with five seconds remaining that Marshon Lattimore snagged — but the damage from the first two reverberated throughout the contest.

Advertisement:

After the game, Jones hit the same notes he has played all year: He believes he needs to be better, and that both he and the offense can improve.

“I think interceptions are part of the game,” Jones said. “You obviously don’t want to throw them, and sometimes they are bang-bang plays, and sometimes they are things you can control. I just have to learn from those errors, and everyone did have my back it seemed. They were very supportive.

“For me, I have worked a lot on just playing the next play. I felt like I wasn’t lingering and thinking about the last play at all, and neither was any of our team, but yeah, we can definitely get better there, and I appreciate everyone just supporting me, and I’ve got to get better and I will.”

Jones also defended Smith after the duo struggled to connect throughout Sunday’s game.

“I think Jonnu has done everything right,” Jones said. “He’s out there running, he’s out there blocking, he’s doing what he’s supposed to do. Me and him, we’re not going to always have perfect days, nobody is.”

Advertisement:

When asked what he saw on Jones’s interceptions after the game, Bill Belichick was particularly acidic — taking a long, uncomfortable pause before answering.

“Probably the same thing you saw,” Belichick said simply.

Jones did keep the Patriots alive briefly. After a fourth-quarter run, he ripped off the knee brace he has worn throughout the season and lofted a tough pass under pressure to Kendrick Bourne. Bourne made an impressive catch and stayed in bounds to score a touchdown that trimmed the Patriots’ deficit to one score.

Jones said his body felt good after the game despite a series of tough hits from the Saints’ defense. He took off the brace because it slid and came loose.

But the Saints ate seven minutes off the clock on the ensuing drive, which resulted in a touchdown. That left under three minutes remaining, and the Patriots couldn’t cut into the two-score lead.

Jones’s teammates appreciated how he responded to the interceptions.

“He kind of was the same,” Bourne said. “Like I said, that’s what you want to see. You don’t want to see a guy tuck his tail when he makes one mistake.

“That’s for all of us. We don’t want to go out there, make one mistake and be out of the game. You have to forget about it, whether it be a good play or a bad play. Mac is really good about that, he came back in, same demeanor. Taking charge and leading us to where we have to go. That’s how it was. It wasn’t no difference in his game, I feel like.”

Advertisement:

Center David Andrews, meanwhile, said the line still needs to do a better job of protecting its quarterback — an issue that has plagued the team all year.

“It is our job to stand up for him and he is standing back there and delivering the ball, so we have to help uphold our end of the bargain and the entire team has to hold up our end of the bargain better,” Andrews said.

But while Jones lauded the Saints’s defense, he maintained that he can play better.

“I just like to watch the tape and look at it from a bird’s eye view and don’t be emotional about it,” Jones said. Just look at it and learn from it and then flip the page. I’m sure there are plays I left on the field — I know there are — and I’m sure the offense as a whole can play better, and we will.”

Jump To Comments

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com