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Patriots shut out at home again, fall to Chargers 6-0 for 5th straight loss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The Patriots were hoping for a spark courtesy of Bailey Zappe.

Instead, the list of dreadful performances from New England’s quarterbacks added another tale of woe in miserable weather conditions on Sunday.

The quarterback switch that’s been a topic de jour in recent weeks saw the Patriots produce more of the same with Zappe’s final stat line in a 6-0 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers resembling the numbers that led to coach Bill Belichick pivoting away from Mac Jones.

In his first start of the season and third of his career, Zappe averaged 5.7 yards per pass attempt with his longest completion going for 27 yards. His quarterback rating was a substandard 68.9 and he also was sacked five times.

“It starts with me. I’ve got to make the ball catchable, especially in conditions like (the ones that hovered over Gillette Stadium on Sunday),” Zappe said.

In a game that saw Zappe unable to lead New England to the red zone and the Patriots failing to produce a touchdown for the second time in three weeks, the issues revolving around the team’s quarterback situation continue to remain open-ended heading into their next game.

Does Zappe get another chance against Pittsburgh on Thursday night? Or does the one-game experiment of Jones watching from the sideline result in Belichick turning back to the team’s 2021 first-round pick?

As expected, Belichick refused to announce a starter for the Patriots’ Week 13 game.

“We just finished the game,” he said.

The coach who continues to chase Don Shula’s record for wins did share why he chose to go with Zappe as opposed to Jones against Los Angeles.

“We gave Mac the opportunity to work through his progression with the offense and obviously hadn’t had a lot of production. I thought Bailey deserved a chance to play,” Belichick said.

The Patriots had three quarterbacks on the active roster for Sunday’s game with undrafted rookie Malik Cunningham joining Zappe and Jones.

Los Angeles coach Brandon Staley says the Chargers were on alert for all three quarterbacks.

“I don’t think you know anything coming out of (New England’s locker). No one really does,” Staley said. “We knew that Mac and Bailey are similar with Bailey moving a little bit better. We were ready for the movement aspect of him, but we were ready for Cunningham as well in case he showed up in the game.”

Zappe’s ability to extend plays helped him produce 16 rushing yards on four carries, though his struggles in the fourth quarter with the Patriots still well within range of a victory resembled the chronic woes produced when Jones was the entrenched starter.

“He was mobile outside of the pocket, making extra plays with his feet,” Patriots receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said.

With chants of “Zappe! Zappe!” coming from the crowd, the second-year pro was sacked on consecutive plays that resulted in a turnover on downs with 6:58 remaining.

The second sack occurred at the Los Angeles 30-yard line; Belichick revealed after the game that the weather conditions played a factor in passing on lining up for a field goal.

New England’s last gasp featured two straight incompletions that gave the ball to the Chargers with 1:58 left. Given the chance to deliver with the game on the line, Zappe failed to distinguish himself as a worthy choice to be the starter moving forward.

“We didn’t win, so I’ll technically clarify it as a missed opportunity,” Zappe said.

Until he’s told otherwise, Zappe plans to prepare as if he’ll be under center for the Patriots on Thursday night.

“I’ve got to go watch the film and get ready for the Steelers,” he said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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