Forget about the second half of the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers game for a moment. Let's just bask in the glory that was the Patriots surprisingly great first half. 21 points? Who thought that was possible?
And I don't even mean over the course of an entire game, but more like over the course of three games. Those 21 points were, in fact, more than the Patriots had scored in their three previous games. Bailey Zappe played so well that he showed he might be just good enough to be a backup quarterback in the NFL. (More on that in a minute, though.)
Among the winners and losers that follow, I don't have Jahlani Tavai listed. He was fantastic once again in Week 14, but he has been mostly great all season. He should be a pillar of Patriots defenses for several years to come.
Winners and one loser for the New England Patriots in Week 14
New England Patriots winner No. 1 - Quarterback Bailey Zappe
I will start with the most obvious ones. Zappe has not yet been very good in his two-year career. He has shown no signs that he should be New England's long-term QB1, but he did so well in the first half against a very good Steelers defense that Zappe at least showed that he deserves a chance to backup whoever the Patriots get to be QB1 in 2024.
Sure, the Patriots in the second half had five punts and one interception and barely hung on to win against a backup quarterback for Pittsburgh, but did anyone think Zappe could lead his team to 21 points? Unlikely. He was mostly efficient and finished 19 of 28 for 240 yards and three touchdowns. He also showed he could move around a little bit at times.
Loser No. 1 - Quarterback Mac Jones
Do we remember that Mac Jones was named to the Pro Bowl two years ago? Whether he deserved the nod or not is another discussion, but he was efficient in 2021. Fast forward to his year, he has not been good, though a large part was due to his protection.
Still, Zappe played behind the same offensive line in Week 14 and was terrific for a half. Jones might be looking for a new team in 2024.