Bailey Zappe appreciated Patriots fans chanting his name, but was more excited by win

"That was going to be the focus point for the rest of the season."

Patriots QB Bailey Zappe calls out signals at the line of scrimmage. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Patriots coach Bill Belichick doesn’t always wax poetic about his quarterbacks, but after rookie Bailey Zappe went 17-for-21 as a passer for 188 yards in a 29-0 victory over the Lions, Belichick took an extra moment to praise the player who filled in with Mac Jones sidelined due to an ankle injury.

“He does a good job of seeing the game and can come off and identify and articulate what he saw, what happened,” Belichick said. “And that’s usually right. What he saw is usually what I saw or — maybe, when you look at the film — there’s something that’s a little gray in there and his explanation is actually good.


“Maybe he might not have done the right thing, but he saw the game.”

Before everyone goes too crazy over the 23-year-old, it should be noted that — when a reporter followed up asking how unique Zappe’s football intellect is — Belichick was quick to say Mac Jones was the same way last season. Belichick certainly didn’t come close to declaring Zappe the Week 6 starter.

But plenty of Zappe’s teammates were impressed as well.

“I think seeing how he handled the last week and that adversity and really getting a full week to prepare here, I thought he did a great job managing the game, making the right calls, checks, things like that,” center David Andrews said. “Making the right decisions, things like that, made some great throws, did a great job protecting the football. Did a great job.”

Zappe connected with Jakobi Meyers seven times on eight targets for 111 yards and a touchdown.

“He did went out there and did the best he could,” Zappe said. “We just had to make sure we protected him, ran the ball well, caught the ball. So like I said, shout out to the coaches for having a good game plan, and calling the right plays and for him to go out there and execute it for us.”


Patriots players were in a great mood after the win. Fans were too. As the clock wound down, chants of “Zap-pe, Zap-pe” echoed across the stadium.

For his part, though, Zappe was careful to downplay his own contributions — pointing instead to how his team played in the shutout victory.

“We played team football today,” Zappe said. “Defense pitched a shutout. O-line played really well. Receivers played well. It was a team effort today, and it was nice to get the win.”

A few reporters tried for some color. How did Zappe feel hearing a football stadium chanting his name?

“I like the support, but to be honest with you, I was just more excited about the win,” Zappe said. “To get a win with my team, that was really the focus point for this week. That was going to be the focus point for the rest of the season.”

Did he have a lot of friends and family on hand for his debut?

“Mom, dad and girlfriend,” Zappe said.

How was this week for them?

“To be quite honest with you, you might have to ask them,” Zappe said. “I haven’t asked those questions. They’ve kind of left me alone, let me play football. So that’s the biggest thing is just focusing on football.”


Clearly, in addition to learning the Patriots’ offense, Zappe has learned Belichick’s system for dealing with the media as well.

Zappe isn’t wrong about the help he got, though. The defense held a potent Lions offense scoreless. Zappe’s offensive line was steadfast — he never got hit, according to the box score. The first touchdown of the game came courtesy of Matt Judon (who jarred a fumble loose with one of his two sacks against Jared Goff) and Kyle Dugger (who grabbed the fumble and ran his first career touchdown into the end zone). Nick Folk recorded 17 points and went 5-for-5 kicking field goals.

Still, Zappe was ready to go and said he felt notably more comfortable in his first start. Whether he gets his second one next week will undoubtedly be a major topic of conversation on local radio stations, but he appears ready if the occasion arises.

“It’s kind of like I’ve always been told,” Zappe said. “Taking advantage of your opportunity. We had an opportunity today as a team to go out there and get a win, and we played really well.”


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