One week shy of the return of the greatest winner in the history of the National Football League, the New England Patriots laid an egg at Gillette Stadium.
Mac Jones threw the first three interceptions of his career and received little help from his supporting cast as the Patriots fell at home to the New Orleans Saints, 28-13, dropping to 1-2 on the season.
It's the first time New England has dropped its first two home games of the season since 2000, Bill Belichick's first year as head coach.
New England's porous offensive line was in part responsible for Jones' first pick, allowing him to be hit as he threw, while Jonnu Smith straight up dropped a ball which turned into his second. The third pick for Jones came in the waning moments of the game, the outcome long since determined.
But one week shy of Tom Brady's first and likely last trip to Foxboro as a visitor, the Patriots did little to show they're ready to fight fire with fire when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to town next Sunday.
"Obviously, they have a great defense, the Saints do," Jones said. "They did what they did. But it's more about us and me just executing our plays. I can do a better job of that. I don't like to assume anything. I just like to watch the tape and look at it from a bird's eye view and don't be emotional about it. Just look at it and learn from it and then flip the page."
Jones finished 30 for 51 for 270 yards, throwing a 22-yard touchdown pass to Kendrick Bourne in addition to his three picks. He was sacked twice but hit 11 times in all.
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Jones also led the Patriots in rushing with 28 yards on six carries, another indicator of the kind of afternoon it was in Foxboro. As a team, New England gained just 49 yards on the ground on 17 carries.
For the Saints, Jameis Winston didn't make any mistakes, playing the role of game manager in completing 13 of 21 passes for 128 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He was sacked three times, with Matt Judon credited on 2.5.
Winston's first touchdown pass, an 11-yard strike to Alvin Kamara out of the backfield, was as a result of a blown assignment somewhere in coverage for New England and put New Orleans ahead for good with 7:35 to go in the first quarter. Winston connected with Marquez Callaway for a 7-yard score with 1:44 left in the second quarter for a 14-0 Saints lead, a deficit for New England which could have been larger if not for a pair of missed field goals from backup Saints kicker Aldrick Rosas.
A Nick Folk 34-yard field goal gave the Patriots points prior to the half, but on the opening possession of the third quarter, Jones threw a pick-six to Malcolm Jenkins -- the ball which sailed through the hands of Smith -- for a 21-3 New Orleans edge.
Jones would settle down considerably for the remainder of the second half, but aside from his touchdown pass to Bourne -- his second of the season -- the troubling trend of finishing drives shy of the end zone continued to plague New England.
Brady's return, which can be seen on NBC 10 Boston, is next Sunday at 8:20 p.m.
"Obviously, they're a good team," Belichick said. "Right now we're just focused on New Orleans. Look at the film, make the corrections on that, then we'll move on."