BOSTON (CBS) — Mac Jones found the end zone just two quarters into his NFL debut. But as teammates tried to give him the football, the rookie quarterback made it clear that he didn’t want it.
Jones wasn’t that interested in the souvenir, because there was still a lot of football to play. And he probably wants nothing to do with that football after the Patriots lost in his debut, 17-16, at the hands of the Miami Dolphins.
Jones threw his first career touchdown pass with 2:30 left in the second quarter of Sunday’s loss, hitting Nelson Agholor as the receiver made a left in-cut for a seven-yard score. Jones saw some pressure coming up the middle on the second-and-goal play, and after faking a handoff to Damien Harris, stepped up and hit Agholor.
THE FIRST TD.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 12, 2021
The touchdown strike gave the Patriots a 10-7 lead at the time. Jones’ teammates made several attempts to give the rookie the ball after his first career scoring strike, but the quarterback wanted no part of it. He ended up playing hot potato with the football, which ended up in the hands of backup QB Brian Hoyer as Jones made his way off the field.
Jones explained that cold reaction after the game.
“It doesn’t matter. It was one touchdown, we have to score more,” Jones said after New England’s 17-16 loss to Miami. “It was not like the game was over there. We have to do better in the red zone, score more touchdowns. And we will.”
Jones finished his day 29-of-39 for 281 yards and the one touchdown. He completed his first six passes of his NFL career, though it didn’t lead to any points for the Patriots. He connected on his first NFL pass on New England’s opening drive — a short four-yard connection with James White on a third-and-21 play. The Patriots were in such a difficult spot because a few plays prior, Jones felt the pocket collapse and fumbled (he actually threw a backward pass to no one, which Jonnu Smith recovered) as he was sacked for a nine-yard loss.
The rookie took his share of licks during his debut, but said that he was feeling good afterward. He wasn’t feeling as good about losing his first career game, however.
“It wasn’t good enough and we have to come back tomorrow and be ready to work. Some of the shots I took were my fault,” he said. “The offensive line played good and they’re going to get better. It takes all of us. We have to improve on our communication and I think we will.”
The Patriots found the end zone just one of the four times they went inside the Miami 20. They had a great shot to steal a win with the ball deep in Miami territory with just over three minutes to play, but Damien Harris fumbled the ball away at the Miami 9-yard line.
“Damien is obviously very disappointed, but it doesn’t go all on him,” said Jones. “There are things I could have done better; take some bigger chunk plays. He plays his heart out and he’ll be better.”
While the outcome was disappointing, Jones did say that he soaked in the sights and sounds of his professional debut. He received loud ovations from New England fans when he first took the field and then again when he led the Patriots offense out for the first drive of the game.
New England drafted Jones with the 15th overall pick in April’s draft after he led the Alabama Crimson Tide to an undefeated season. Jones beat out veteran quarterback Cam Newton in training camp and the preseason to win the starting job. He is the first rookie quarterback to start Week 1 for the Patriots since No. 1 overall pick Drew Bledsoe did so in 1993.