Patriots

Bailey Zappe: First NFL game and taking Aaron Rodgers to overtime is ‘dream come true’

Zappe and the Patriots played well, but came up just short.

Patrick McDermott
Patriots fourth-round pick Bailey Zappe, left, made his NFL debut against future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers, who got the last laugh in overtime.

Bailey Zappe’s NFL debut ended in a 27-24 overtime loss on a last-second field goal. It clearly wasn’t the result he wanted.

But, having a rookie third-string quarterback manage the game well enough to give New England a shot at taking down Rodgers and the Packers down the stretch is about as well as the Patriots could have hoped for.

“Of course it was exciting at first. It was a dream come true to play in an NFL game,” Zappe said after the game. “It’s obviously not the outcome we wanted at all. First I give credit to my teammates. They kept me calm, getting the nerves out of me. They kept me in my space, cool, calm, and collected. Everybody played well tonight. O-line played well tonight, we ran the ball well tonight. It really just comes down to me, I’ve got to make more plays and the outcome is different.”

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The Patriots played a much-more risk-averse style Sunday to protect the fourth-round pick from Western Kentucky. They pounded the ball on the ground and didn’t attempt many deep throws. There were plenty of screens and play-actions to keep Green Bay’s defense off-balance without gambling too big.

Far different from the big swings Mac Jones took last week that helped push him to the top of the league leaderboard in interceptions.

It resulted in Zappe going 10/15 for 99 yards and a touchdown without any turnovers, and that was nearly enough to win.

Zappe said it didn’t take him long to settle in after taking over when Brian Hoyer left the game with a head injury in the first half.

“After the first handoff I kind of settled in, everything kind of quieted down,” Zappe said. “Then I just started giving the ball to the playmakers and letting them do what they do best.”

His best throw was a 25-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open DeVante Parker after the Packers bit on a play fake.

“I felt comfortable with that play,” Zappe said. “We all talked about it on the sideline. We came out there and executed it well. I was able to play pitch and catch with the receivers.”

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Pitch and catch with the receivers, leading the New England Patriots during a fourth-quarter two-minute drill with a four-time league MVP on the other side.

How’s that for an NFL debut?

“Maybe [I soaked in the atmosphere] a little bit pregame,” Zappe said. “But once the game started I kind of settled in and focused on the task at hand. Especially when I went in. my main objective was to do my job and do it well.”

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