Patriots

Bailey Zappe showed ‘a lot of grit’ in Patriots debut

The rookie quarterback looked more comfortable as the game progressed, leading the Patriots to a final-drive score.

New York Giants linebacker Quincy Roche (95) rushes New England Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) during the first half. AP

Rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe was of the bright spots in the Patriots’ preseason opener loss to the Giants Thursday night.

He rebounded from a tough start after beginning the game 3-of-9 passing and ended up throwing for 205 yards on 19-of-32 passing with a touchdown and an interception.

The strong first impression was not lost upon quarterback Brian Hoyer.

“[Zappe] showed a lot of grit,” Hoyer said. “That’s not easy to do in in your first NFL experience, especially with what they were throwing at us defensively, a lot of blitz zero, a lot of tight man coverage, some overload blitzes, so some stuff that we haven’t seen, and he hung in there, made some great throws.”

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Late in the fourth quarter, it looked like the Patriots were set to snatch the win away from the Giants after trailing most of the game. New England scored on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Zappe to Lil’Jordan Humphrey, capping a 9-play, 69-yard drive with just under five minutes to go.

Ultimately, the Patriots left too much time on the clock. The Giants marched down the field and scored the game-winning field-goal on their next possession as time expired.

But, it was clear that once Zappe got a couple series under his belt, he looked much more confident than he did at the start of the game.

“Yeah, kind of just as the game went on, like you said, you just get more and more comfortable,” Zappe said. “The more times I come to the sideline, talk to my coaches, talk to my teammates about what they saw, what they’re seeing, and just going back on a drive and just having that next-play mentality, and that’s kind of what my coaches, my teammates, we all try to communicate to everybody is have that next-play mentality and moving on from what happened prior and moving on to the next one and trying to do our best, do our job.”

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Overall, it was not a bad debut for the rookie filling in for Mac Jones and playing without most of the team’s starters.

“I thought he was calm all night,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. “Again, we’re all going to learn from things. He’ll learn from things. He made some good plays. There’s some other things that – it’s part of the learning process.”

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