Patriots

Mac Jones shares what Tom Brady told him after Buccaneers beat Patriots

"I think we moved in the right direction."

Mac Jones
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Tom Brady had a lot of people to greet after he and the Buccaneers beat the Patriots 19-17 in his return to Foxborough on Sunday, but he briefly made time to chat with his successor: Rookie Patriots quarterback Mac Jones.

Brady and Jones put together an entertaining battle, which culminated in Nick Folk’s 56-yard field-goal attempt that clanked off the uprights and allowed Brady to escape his old home with a victory. Afterward, Jones stopped to say hello to the Patriots legend who won six titles with the team before Jones arrived.

“After the game, just got a chance to congratulate him on the win,” Jones said. “He’s a great quarterback and he played well tonight. That’s pretty much all there was to it.”

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What did Brady say to him?

“He just told me to keep my head up and keep working,” Jones said.

Jones finished 31-for-40 as a passer with a pair of touchdowns, an interception, and 275 yards. He was sacked four times and took a lot of hits, but he never wavered in the pocket.

“He did a great job,” Brady said after the game. “That offense did a great job. Josh dialed up some plays there.”

Jones thought the offense as a whole made strides as well. While the Patriots’ running game was completely stymied by the Buccaneers’ staunch run defense, Jones took advantage of a Buccaneers secondary depleted by injury and led several marches down the field.

“I think [the offense] moved in the right direction,” Jones said. “We made plays and played hard the whole game and turned the ball over, that’s one of the problems. Turnovers can kill you, and if you turn the ball over — if you don’t turn the ball over, you have a 90-something percent chance to win, it’s just statistics.

“But I thought we moved the ball passing well. The run game needs to improve. We’ll come up with ways to do that. I thought everybody fought really hard. It sucks we lost, but you have to look at it like you said, we’re making some progress.”

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Belichick, whose post-game press conference was the only part of the evening icier than his postgame hug with Brady, offered few specifics on Jones after the game.

“I thought our team played competitively, and Mac is certainly a part of that,” he said. “We can all play better and all learn from some of the things we could have done better, but Mac fought hard and made a lot of plays for us.”

Jones, however, has earned the respect of his teammates. Devin McCourty said the team doesn’t even really think about Jones as a rookie at this point, and added that Jones stays late — often deep into the evening — to watch film and study the game.

Presumably, that’s how Jones managed to block out the noise. Sunday’s game featured more than 500 credentialed media members — a very high number for a regular-season game. For one evening, the entire football world focused on Foxborough, and with the exception of his interception, Jones appeared up to the task.

“I think just focus on what’s important now is kind of what I tell myself,” Jones said. “On Tuesday, it was practice. On Wednesday, it was practice. Thursday practice, Friday practice. I just try to focus on how I can get better in the past week, and everything else is a distraction.

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“I just try to block the noise. Everybody on our team tried to block the noise. I wish I played a little better so we could have won, but it is what it is. Hats off to the other football team for getting the win.”

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