Patriots fall to the Saints, 34-0: Quick observations from another embarrassing loss

The Patriots have not scored an offensive touchdown in 10 quarters of football.

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, right, is seated on bench near wide receiver DeVante Parker, left, during the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass.
Mac Jones and the Patriots are now 1-4 this season. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

It’s gone from bad to worse for the Patriots.

Already facing a “must-win” game in Week 5 against a decidedly pedestrian Saints team, the Patriots desperately needed to right the ship after enduring a 38-3 blowout loss to the Cowboys last week.

Instead, it went from bad to worse for Bill Belichick’s team, who trailed, 21-0, at the half en route to a 34-0 defeat at the hands of New Orleans.

For the second straight game, Mac Jones was benched in favor of Bailey Zappe after getting knocked for three turnovers once again.

The Patriots are now 1-4 on the season, and 0-3 at Gillette Stadium. The Saints move to 3-2 on the year.


Here are a few early observations from yet another embarrassing loss for New England in Foxborough.

Waving the white flag?

New England’s woeful 38-3 loss to Dallas was supposed to represent the low point of the Patriots’ 2023 season.

After a loss where Mac Jones was tabbed for three turnovers and was benched in the third quarter, the accepted sentiment was that things could only go up for the Patriots’ struggling offensive unit.

Apparently, we were wrong.

And after yet another pathetic showing from the Patriots where Jones was benched and all three phases of the game were rife with mistakes, one has to wonder if we’re asking the right questions about this roster.

Are we waiting for the Patriots to right the ship? Or is this New England team just what they’ve been for most of this fall — a lackluster, banged-up roster that’s headed for the basement of the NFL?

So far, the Patriots have done little to dissuade doubters from the fact that this season might already be lost — especially with today’s matchup against the Saints standing as arguably the softest part of a daunting schedule.

Mac Jones, Patriots offense struggle once again

Are we finally reaching the breaking point for Jones and New England’s offense?


Jones finished Sunday’s laugher of a game completing just 12 of 22 passes for 110 yards before getting yanked for Zappe for the second straight game. New England gained just 156 total yards of offense, while the Saints gained 304.

At this point, we might as well just copy+paste the same old script when it comes to New England’s offensive woes, which continue to compound and get worse with each passing week.

Once again, New England found itself in an insurmountable 21-0 deficit in the first half — forcing the Patriots’ already laboring offense to become one-dimensional and turn to an impotent passing game to try to claw back.

During New England’s previous three losses this season, they trailed:

16-0 to Philadelphia
17-3 to Miami
28-3 to Dallas at the half

You’re not going to claw out of many of those holes, especially with Jones playing arguably the worst football of his NFL career.

Jones’s turnovers once again led to disaster on Sunday, but the rest of New England’s offensive unit sure left a lot to be desired once again.

A patchwork offensive line surrendered two sacks, three tackles for loss, and four QB hits, while New England only gained 45 total rushing yards.

The Patriots have made just one trip to the red zone since Week 2 and have not scored an offensive touchdown in 10 quarters. Their last offensive score came all the way back in the second quarter of Week 3 against the Jets with Pharaoh Brown’s 58-yard TD.


That sure feels like a long time ago.

Turnovers continue to plague Jones

Win the turnover battle, win the game.

It’s that simple for the Patriots, whose lone win this season came when they took care of the football against a very good Jets team.

But after getting knocked for three direct turnovers against Dallas, Jones once again doubled down with some costly miscues against the Saints.

After New England’s first offensive drive sputtered with a 3-and-out, its follow-up ended in disaster. Jones was hit as he threw on a 3rd-and-six, with Tyrann Mathieu plucking the ball out of the air and returning it for a 27-yard pick-six.

As noted by ESPN Stats & Info, that first-quarter gaffe stood as Jones’s fourth career pick-six thrown at Gillette Stadium. That was as many as Tom Brady threw in his entire career at Gillette Stadium.  

Jones was knocked for another two turnovers in the third quarter before eventually getting benched. An attempt to run a fake on the “tush push” once again blew up spectacularly for New England, with Jones credited with a fumble that was recovered by Cameron Jordan on New England’s 29-yard line.

New Orleans connected on a field goal on the subsequent drive, while yet another interception from Jones at the end of the third quarter resulted in a six-play, 31-yard touchdown drive for the Saints. 

The Patriots have now been outscored, 55-0, off turnovers this season — the worst point differential in the league. New England allowed just 37 points off turnovers all last season. 

Patriots defense shredded by Saints

New England’s struggles on offense have been well-established at this point. But Sunday marked another concerning trend, as the Patriots’ defense was put on the ropes by a lackluster Saints offense.


Entering Week 5, the Saints scored nine points in a loss to the Buccaneers last week, and scored 17, 20 and 16 before that. It took them less than two quarters of play to set a new season-high for scoring against New England.

The absences of both Matthew Judon and Christian Gonzalez were clearly felt. But New England still shouldn’t have been completely picked apart in zone coverage, nor should they have struggled with tackling against a Saints team that was arguably a mirror image of your own offense entering today’s game.

More injuries sap New England’s roster

The injury bug continued to sting the Patriots on Sunday, this time targeting one of the few dynamic playmakers on offense.

Demario Douglas exited Sunday’s game due to a head injury, with the Patriots ruling the rookie wideout out for the remainder of the game coming out of the half. The young receiver made one of the few bombastic plays on offense for the Patriots, reeling in a 24-yard catch in the first quarter.

New England also lost starting guard Mike Onwenu (ankle) and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (head) during Sunday’s game, while safety Jabrill Peppers exited early due to illness.

Poor special teams play 

The cherry on top of New England’s poor performance against New Orleans was a lackluster showing on special teams for the Patriots.

Along with a several poor snaps from Joe Cardona that led to punting woes for Bryce Baringer, Chad Ryland also missed a 48-yard field-goal attempt in the first quarter. The rookie kicker is just 4-for-8 on his field-goal attempts so far this season.


Also, in case you wanted to keep track: Veteran Nick Folk entered Sunday’s game 10-for-10 on field-goal attempts with the Titans, including a 2-for-2 showing on kicks outside of 50 yards.



3:26: Zappe in at quarterback.

3:21: 31-0 Saints. New England is getting smoked in their own building.

3:20: Peppers questionable to return due to illness.

3:17: Sure looks like Zappe is warming up.

3:15: Another pick for Jones. It keeps on getting worse.

3:10: Now Peppers also heads to the locker room.

3:07: Both Smith-Schuster and Onwenu are downgraded to out.

3:03: Now JuJu Smith-Schuster is shaken up. 

2:58: Mac Jones out there for another drive. 

2:56: Patriots might have already waived the white flag. 

2:53: And now the Patriots are punting on 4th-and-3 from the Saints 40, while down 24-0. Ok then. 

2:48: Saints’ kick is good. 24-0 New Orleans. 

2:44: The Patriots try to fake the tush push and it ends in disaster. Saints recover the fumble.

2:44: Demario Douglas is ruled out of the game. Head injury. Onwenu is questionable to return.

2:42: If you can stomach it, the second half is underway. 

2:44: The Patriots try to fake the tush push and it ends in disaster. Saints recover the fumble.

2:44: Demario Douglas is ruled out of the game. Head injury. Onwenu is questionable to return.

2:42: If you can stomach it, the second half is underway.

2:27: 21-0 Saints at the half. Well, that was dreadful.

Plenty of boos here at Gillette.

2:10: The Patriots just look defeated out there. Another failed chance to score on New England’s fifth offensive possession out there.


2:02: It gets worse. Demario Douglas is questionable to return with a head injury.

2:01: This is the most that the Saints have scored in a single game this season. There’s 10:47 left in the half.

1:58: And now, the defense is imploding. It’s 21-0 Saints.

That sure feels like enough to land a knockout punch.

1:55: Not great!

1:53: Another bad snap and a poor punt for New England.

1:52: The Patriots offensive drives so far:

Pick six
Missed FG

1:48: 14-0 Saints. Yuck.

For the fourth time in five games, the Patriots are trailing by double digits in the first half.

1:43: End First: Saints lead, 7-0. … And New Orleans is now on the 5 yard.

1:38: Annnnnd Ryland’s 48-yard kick is no good. Still a 7-0 game.

Ryland is now 4-for-8 on kicks so far this season.

1:34: Looks like Reiff is subbing in for Mafi on the O-line.

1:32: Pop Douglas sighting. And what do you know, it goes for a big gain.

1:30: The Patriots are 0-3 when they lose the turnover battle this season.

1:27: Annnnd we’ve got Zappe chants.

1:26: Another disastrous sequence for the Patriots. Jones is hit as he throws and it goes for a pick-six. 7-0 Saints.

1:21: Yet another punt for the Saints offense. Let’s see if New England can generate a bit more momentum on the other side of the ball.

1:19: J.C. Jackson on the field for this second defensive series.

1:17: A 26-yard punt is … not ideal for Bryce Baringer.

1:16: A 3-and-out for New England’s offense. Some early boos.

1:13: New England pays tribute to Tim Wakefield.

1:11: Curious choice by Peppers to field that punt.


1:09: New England brings the pressure and Bentley gets the sack. Saints will punt.

1:08: Nice pass break-up by Shaun Wade on a throw to Thomas.

1:06: Carr’s pass to Olave almost gets snagged by Jonathan Jones.

1:04: Patriots open with Jonathan Jones and Myles Bryant at corner. Three safeties in Peppers, Phillips, and Dugger.

1:00: Patriots won the coin toss. They defer. Raiders get the ball first.

12:57: The Patriots hold a moment of silence for Russ Francis just ahead of kickoff.

12:50: Based on warmups, here’s New England’s starting O-line:

LT – Trent Brown LG – Atonio Mafi C – David Andrews RG – Michael Onwenu RT – Vederian Lowe

12:40: Some new signage at Gillette.

12:18: Some good news for the Patriots on defense, even amid the news of Judon and Gonzalez. Jonathan Jones is set to return from an ankle injury, while J.C. Jackson is good to go.

Cole Strange remains out, so it looks like Mafi will slot back in at left guard once again.

12:17: Here’s a live look at Patriots warmups:

12:15: Perfect football weather ahead of a must-win game for New England.


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