Disaster in Dallas was the worst loss of the Bill Belichick era, and other final thoughts

This is the first time a Bill Belichick coached team has lost by 35 points.

Bill Belichick. Matthew J Lee/ Globe Staff

Bill Belichick became an NFL head coach in 1991, which was more than three decades ago and seven years before Mac Jones was born.

No one had ever beaten a Belichick-coached team by 35 points until Sunday, when the Cowboys pulverized the Patriots during a contest that ended 38-3 at Dallas’s AT&T Stadium.

Jones, whom the Patriots selected with a first-round pick in 2021, found himself on the bench during the third quarter after three costly turnovers and too little offensive production to make up for them.

Bailey Zappe didn’t turn the ball over after relieving Jones. But, he didn’t lead any scoring drives either. The Patriots went all day without a touchdown. Their only score was a field goal on the first drive of the game.


Two of New England’s most important defenders, cornerback Christian Gonzalez and linebacker Matthew Judon, left the game with injuries.

Here are a few final thoughts from the action.

Mistakes stacking up

It wasn’t just the turnovers that crushed the Patriots on Sunday.

The Cowboys caught the Patriots unprepared for a fake-field-goal attempt that went for a two-point conversion. ESPN’s Mike Reiss reports that it was the first time a team ran a successful fake for a two-point conversion since rule changes put point-after attempts on the 15-yard line in 2015.

The Patriots were also whistled for six penalties, costing them 50 yards. That’s only three less than the amount of rushing yards [53] that the Patriots compiled as a team.

“We have to stop playing losing football,” offensive lineman David Andrews said.

Jones hits a low point, but gets another shot

Sunday marked the first time that Jones was benched since he was pulled in favor of Zappe against the Bears last year.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said that there wasn’t any point in leaving Jones in the game with New England down four scores.

The Patriots plan to start Jones against the Saints at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, Belichick said.

Jones said the performance could be viewed by some as a low point in his career.


“It depends on how you look at it, I think for sure,” Jones said. “I’m very competitive and I put a lot into it. I feel really bad that I let the team down, the coaches down, the whole organization, everybody, the fans. We’ve got a great fan base and I’ve got to put a better product out there to beat good teams.”

Another look at Bailey Zappe

The Patriots gave every NFL team a chance to sign Bailey Zappe when they released him on cutdown day, but he cleared waivers and eventually returned to the team.

On Sunday, the Patriots gave him his first playing time since the preseason. The second-year signal caller finished 4-for-9 for 57 yards and no turnovers.

The Patriots won a pair of games against the Lions and Browns last year with Zappe as the starter while Jones was hurt. He’s yet to lose an NFL start, although he did play most of New England’s blowout loss to Chicago last year.

Zappe said he supports Jones but is focused on doing his job.

“The biggest thing is just staying prepared and trying to do the best for the team when your name is called,” Zappe said.

Missing Judon, Gonzalez will hurt

Matthew Judon is expected to miss time after tearing a tendon in his left bicep, according to multiple reports.


The Patriots will be without their best pass-rusher during that time. Judon entered that game tied for fourth in the league in sacks.

Gonzalez, who was recently named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Month for September, was downgraded to out for the remainder of the game after initially being ruled questionable to return.

Any potential absence for Gonzalez would be another hit to a Patriots secondary that is already missing Jack Jones, Jonathan Jones, and Marcus Jones due to injuries.

Run game completely ineffective

The Patriots struggled to move the ball on the ground against Dallas’s defense.

They averaged 2.3 yards per carry.

Ezekiel Elliott got six touches for 16 yards in his return to Dallas. Rhamondre Stevenson’s best game this season remains his 50-yard performance against Miami.

It’s the third time this season the Patriots have been held under 100 yards rushing.

A disappointing day

Even though the Patriots lost by 35 points, the defense only gave up two touchdowns on offense.

Jones gave Dallas two more touchdowns with his turnovers.

Dallas tallied 377 yards of total offense against New England’s defense, which is the second most the Patriots have given up this season.

Prescott still had plenty of time to throw, and took advantage by completing 28 of his 36 pass attempts.

The Patriots, collectively, have quite a bit of work to do Belichick said.

“We didn’t do anything well enough as a team,” Belichick said. “That includes everybody. Coaches, players. Offense, defense, special teams. It wasn’t good enough.”


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