Last night, the Patriots went on the road and beat the 7-5 Steelers in Heinz Field in the Pats best game of the season. The Patriots' 21 points were the team's best since Week 7 and their second highest total of the year. With this win, the Patriots step up to a 3-10 record and have moved form the No. 2 pick to the No. 3.
The Patriots looked like a brand new team in the first half under Bailey Zappe. Halfway through the 2nd quarter the Patriots had scored their third touchdown of the game and ran out to a 21-3 start. Bailey Zappe had thrown his 3rd touchdown of the game to Zeke, Henry and another to Henry. He would end the day with 240 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception, failing to carry his first half rhythm into the second.
Even after the Patriots monstrous first half, they should still feel a bit lucky to leave Pittsburgh with a win. The second half was dominated by the Steelers with the Patriots only able to muster 61 total yards. The Patriots would also commit two costly turnovers, one being the interception from Zappe that would luckily lead to the Steelers turning the ball over on downs on the Patriots 7-yard line (a terrible call from Mike Tomlin), and a blocked punt at the beginning of the 4th quarter that would lead to a TD and 2-point play from Mitch Trubisky.
The game would come down to one final drive form the Steelers pinned deep in their own territory with 15 seconds left. Patriots fans watched in silence as Trubisky completed 2 quick passes for 45 yards into the Pats' side of the field but without a timeout would see the time run to triple-zeros marking a celebration for the home team.
3 Stars of the Game
With Zappe's inspirational start snapping the Pats' 5-game losing streak, he earns the First Star of this week. His 115.2 rating is the best by any Patriots starter this year and should have solidified himself as the starter for the remainder of the season.
The Second Star of the week belongs to Ezekiel Elliot, who finished the day with 22 carries for 68 yards and 7 receptions for 72 yards and a TD. Elliot has strung together his second outstanding game in a row since Rhamondre Stevenson went down with an injury.
The Third Star of the game has to go to Jabrill Peppers who tallied 3 tackles, 1 pass deflection and an interception in the first quarter which he returned for 32 yards all the way to the Pittsburgh 11, setting up an easy touchdown to Hunter Henry. Hunter Henry also deserves credit for a great 2-touchdown performance which just happened to occur on his birthday.
Bailey Zappe's Future
Bailey Zappe was very reminiscent of his 3-game start last season and had his best game as a starter last night. In only his second start this season, Zappe threw 3 early touchdowns giving the Pats the only two-score lead of their season. It should be safe to say he will be the starter for the remaining 4 games of the season. Those 4 games include:
vs Kansas City
vs New York Jets
With the first three games coming against teams all fighting for playoff position and Top-12 offenses in the league, it will be vital for Zappe to continue this current form for the Patriots to have any chance of victory. Finally, with Aaron Rodgers' rumored comeback imminent, an AFC East battle between the kid and the oldest current QB in the league would be a great showcase for Zappe to make one final bid if he wants to be the starter for the Pats come next season.
Zappe will have two more years under contract with New England and with rumors of the Patriots drafting a Quarterback in the first round circulating, may be relegated to a backup for the back half of his contract. A role he has known ever since being drafted in 2021 and a role Zappe seems to thrive in whenever he is given a chance to show what he can do.
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