ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — With his facemask buried in the turf, New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones didn’t see the touchdown that resulted from his fumble deep in his own territory.
He might not have seen the defensive tackle pursuing him then, or the cornerback that picked him off just before halftime.
Jones was pulled late in the third quarter of the Patriots’ 38-3 loss against the Cowboys on Sunday, when he had three turnovers. Two of them led directly to touchdowns for Dallas.
Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch returned a fumble 11 yards early in the second quarter after Jones was tackled from behind by Dante Fowler, who had come from around the end and knocked the ball loose while bringing the quarterback down. Jones was face down under Fowler when the touchdown was scored.
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Then just before halftime, when Jones was trying for a long completion to Kendrick Bourne, cornerback DaRon Bland stepped in front of the receiver and returned the pick 54 yards for a touchdown and a 28-3 halftime lead.
The Patriots (1-3) trailed 31-3 with 3:41 left in the third quarter when second-year quarterback Bailey Zappe took over for Jones. It was the first snaps this season for Zappe, who was 4-of-9 passing for 57 yards. New England had only 253 total yards.
New England has averaged only 13 1/2 points this season, and its only win was 15-10 last week at the New York Jets.
Jones was 12-of-21 passing for 150 yards with two interceptions against Dallas, and now has a 17-18 record as the Patriots starter. The first-round pick out of Alabama in 2021 has been the starter since his rookie season. He has thrown for 898 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions this season.
During Jones’ rookie season, the Patriots went 10-7 — after a 1-3 start and a 1-3 finish to the regular season. They lost his only playoff start.
The 25-point halftime deficit was the largest ever for Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who entered the game looking to become only the third NFL head coach ever to reach 300 regular-season wins. The 300-game winners are Don Shula with 328 and George Halas with 318.
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