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Defense dominates in rout of Detroit | #macos | #macsecurity | #hacking | #aihp


“A strong effort there,” he said.

Rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe, making his first NFL start, completed 17 of 21 passes for 188 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.

“He was confident out there. He does a good job of seeing the game,” Belichick said.

Running back Rhamondre Stevenson added a career-high 161 yards on 25 carries and receiver Jakobi Meyers had 111 yards on seven receptions.

”You’ve got to give him ton of credit,” Belichick said. “He put it all on his shoulders.

Lions quarterback Jared Goff completed 19 of 35 passes for 229 yards and one interception. The Lions were 0-for-6 on fourth down.

It didn’t look like a blowout in the early going, as the Patriots couldn’t punch it in on their first two possessions, settling for a pair of Nick Folk field goals (from 37 and 32 yards) to make it 6-0 midway through the second quarter. Meanwhile, the Lions got close early, but a Jones interception deep in New England territory gave the ball back to the Patriots.

The Patriots’ defense pushed the lead into double digits just before halftime. Judon sacked Goff and Dugger pounced on the loose ball, taking it 59 yards to make it 13-0 with 3:26 left in the second quarter. Another field goal from Folk (this one from 44 yards) made it 16-0 at the break.

The second half was more of the same, as the Patriots pushed out to a 26-0 edge entering the fourth quarter when Folk knocked one home from 37 yards, and Zappe added a 24-yard touchdown pass to Meyers at the end of the third quarter. One last field goal from Folk — his fifth of the day, a 29-yarder — finished the scoring.

Below are updates, commentary, and analysis posted throughout the game.


Click here to refresh | Box score: Patriots vs. Lions | Sign up for Point After, our Patriots newsletter | Read more Patriots stories

Watch: Patriots-Lions highlights — 5:25 p.m.

A career day for Rhamondre Stevenson — 5:11 p.m.

On an afternoon where his running mate Damien Harris went down with a hamstring injury, Rhamondre Stevenson knew he was going to have to step into the spotlight. Stevenson answered the challenge with a career-best 161 rushing yards on 25 carries Sunday against the Lions, and played a sizable role in the thunderous 29-0 win.

”I think that’s a pretty good day,” center David Andrews said of Stevenson. “He did a great job.”

”You’ve got to give him ton of credit,” coach Bill Belichick said of Stevenson. “He put it all on his shoulders.

”He’s really a good football player. I’m so glad we have him,” Belichick added. “He’s a good all-around back.”

Stevenson got things cranked up in the first half, including a 49-yard dash in the early going that was the longest run from scrimmage on the season for the Patriots. He added to that in the second half, as New England continued to chew up the clock and grind down the Lions on the way to the first shutout of the season.

Stevenson, who has 68 carries for 372 yards, was asked if his approach changed at all when Harris left because of injury.

”My mindset didn’t really change,” Stevenson said. “I knew we had a job to go do.

”I feel like those guys up front, they really led the way,” said Stevenson. “Just those guys up front, I have all the respect for them.”

Strong return to action for Jakobi Meyers — 5:06 p.m.

Not sure anyone was happier after Sunday’s win than wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, who missed last week’s loss to the Packers with a knee injury.

”It was great,” Meyers said with a smile when asked what it was like being back on the field. “Honestly. it’s a little boring watching it on TV and watching on the sideline. I’m not going to lie.

”It was a lot of mental reps. It’s not as much fun, but it still had to be done.”

Meyers ended up with a team-high seven catches on eight targets for 111 yards and a touchdown in his return. The receiver often found himself in single coverage as the Lions were forced to contend with a New England ground game that averaged 5.0 yards per carry.

”It’s the most important part of football, to run the ball,” Meyers said. “If the running backs are going, it’ll be a good day for us on the outside.”

The Gillette Stadium crowd saluted Bailey Zappe at the end of Sunday’s game, chanting his name as the rookie left the field. Did he hear it?

”I like the support,” he said, “but to be honest with you, I was just more excited about the win.”

Zappe and the Patriots came away with their first home win of the season Sunday, a 29-0 shutout of the Lions. In his first NFL start, Zappe finished 17-for-21 for 188 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The rookie received a bump from the ground game, which finished with 176 rushing yards, and Jakobi Meyers, who added seven catches on eight targets for 111 yards and a touchdown catch.

”I feel like he did a great job, honestly. That’s not just a testament to him. That’s a testament to the coaches and the team,” said Meyers, who returned from sitting out last week’s loss against the Packers. “Shout-out to the coaches for having a good game plan and calling the right plays and for him to go out and execute.”

”I thought he did a great job managing the game, making the right calls,” offensive lineman David Andrews said of Zappe. “Making the right decisions.”

For Zappe, a lot of it came back to the work of the offensive line, which cleared the way for the ground game, and provided him with the extra time to throw.

”They played amazing today, to be honest with you,” Zappe said, singling out the group of six — including Marcus Cannon, who stepped in when it came to heavy run packages. “To be able to have those guys up front, it’s amazing to have them.

”We played team football today,” he said. “It’s amazing to get the win.”

Shaughnessy: A quarterback controversy? — 4:44 p.m.

By Dan Shaughnessy, Globe columnist

OK, strap yourselves in.

Here we go.

Zappe Fever Grips Hub. Zappe Days Are Here Again. Don’t Worry, be Zappy.

Suddenly, Mac Jones is on notice. Mac Jones is Wally Pipp and Zappe is Lou Gehrig. Mac is Drew Bledsoe and Zappe is (gulp) Tom Brady.

We have what Bill Belichick hates the most: a fabricated quarterback controversy. I mean, we all know you’re not supposed to lose your job to an injury, but Zappe is undefeated as a starting quarterback in the NFL. How can Bill move him out of the position? And who cares if he looks like Ollie from “Hoosiers”?

Read Dan’s full column here.

Volin: Belichick proved he can still get it done with a backup QB — 4:25 p.m.

By Ben Volin, Globe Staff

We can question whether Bill Belichick can win a Super Bowl with another quarterback. Or if he needs to improve his record in free agency and the draft.

But one thing we can’t question about Belichick — the man can still coach.

Sunday’s beatdown of the Lions, improving the Patriots to 2-3, was a classic Belichick masterpiece. He shut out the NFL’s No. 1 scoring offense, which came in averaging 35 points per game. And he won by 29 points with a third-string, rookie quarterback, who looked calm, cool, and well-prepared in his first NFL start.

Read the full Instant Analysis of Sunday’s game here.

Folk on the money again — 3:44 p.m.

Patriots 29, Lions 0 | 5:01 left 4th quarter

Nick Folk delivered his fifth field goal of the afternoon, this one from 29 yards, to make it 29-0 with 5:01 left in the fourth quarter.

The score capped a seven-play, 57 yard drive by the Patriots that chewed up 4:19 on the clock.

A personal best — 3:42 p.m.

Rhamondre Stevenson, who has rushed for 138 yards midway through the fourth quarter, has reached a career high. His previous best single-game rushing total was 107 last year against the Jaguars.

Lions now 0-for-5 on fourth down — 3:36 p.m.

Another fourth-down stop for the New England defense, as Detroit is 0-for-5 on fourth-down chances. The Patriots will get the ball back at their own 34 with a 26-0 lead and 9:14 left. (The last time a team went 0-for-5 on fourth down was in 1995, according to the Fox broadcast.)

On another note, this is the first game in a stretch of contests for New England that should theoretically allow them to start to make some noise in the AFC. After this week, the Patriots have a stretch of five games that can all be classified as “winnable” contests: at Cleveland, home against Chicago, at the New York Jets, home against Indianapolis, and home against the Jets. Could today’s game help provide a spark for the Patriots? We’ll see.

Lions denied again on fourth down — 3:24 p.m.

It was another drive to nowhere for the discombobulated Detroit offense, which is now 0-for-4 on fourth down. The latest was a fourth-and-goal scoring opportunity that went for naught when a Goff pass for St. Brown was off the mark. New England will get the ball at its own five with 13:12 left in regulation and a 26-0 lead.

Patriots in command — 3:14 p.m.

After the third quarter, the Patriots lead 26-0.

Zappe: 16-for-19, 165 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; Stevenson: 15 carries, 102 yards; Meyers: 6 catches, 7 targets, 88 yards, 1 TD

Bailey to Meyers adds to Patriots’ lead — 3:06 p.m.

Patriots 26, Lions 0 | 1:59 left 3rd quarter

Jakobi Meyers picked up his first touchdown of the season to cap off a Patriots drive, a 24-yard touchdown pass, as New England went 66 yards on eight plays to make it 26-0 with 1:51 to go in the third quarter. You never say never, but the way things are shaking out this afternoon, this one looks to be well in hand for the Patriots.

Patriots 3-for-3 on fourth-down stops — 3:00 p.m.

A Detroit team that has all sorts of issues in the kicking game has rolled the dice three times on fourth down this afternoon, and has come up empty each time. The Lions, who brought in a new kicker this week, just came up short on another fourth-and-9 situation, turning the ball back over to the Patriots.

New England, which was 0-for-2 coming into Sunday’s game when it came to stopping opponents on fourth down, has struggled to turn the takeaways into points, but has still opened up a 19-0 lead midway through the third quarter.

Folk connects again — 2:47 p.m.

Patriots 19, Lions 0 | 10:09 left 3rd quarter

Another field goal for Folk, a 37-yarder (his fourth of the day) makes it 19-0 with 10:09 left in the third quarter. It was a good but not great drive for the Patriots, who went 56 yards on nine plays.

• Not sure that second-down screen could have been executed any worse, from the flip pass to Stevenson’s odd path. It ended up going for negative yardage, which was no shock.

• Going to be interesting to see how much — if at all — the Patriots’ offensive game plan will change with Stevenson as the only available running back. On that series, New England opened it up a bit, with Zappe taking multiple shots downfield. (On one play, the Patriots benefitted from a Detroit DPI.)

Damien Harris out of game — 2:42 p.m.

The Patriots ruled running back Damien Harris out with a hamstring injury to start the second half of Sunday’s game against Detroit.

The team initially listed Harris as questionable to return in the first half before downgrading him to out. Harris rushed for 11 yards on four carries, and caught a pass for a yard.

Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson typically alternate drives at running back, so Stevenson’s workload increased significantly with Harris sidelined. Rookie Pierre Strong was inactive as a healthy scratch, so the Patriots did not have any other options at the position.

Last season, Harris missed one game, Week 14 against Indianapolis, with a hamstring injury suffered in Week 13.

– Nicole Yang

Halftime analysis — 2:32 p.m.

Two quarters are in the books in Foxborough, and the Patriots hold a 16-0 lead on the Lions. Here are a few quick notes:

Patriots stats leaders: Zappe: 8-for-10, 101 yards, 1 INT; Stevenson: 8 carries, 69 yards; 1 catch, 1 target, 15 yards; Meyers: 4 catches, 4 targets, 54 yards

Lions stat leader: Goff: 4-for-8, 47 yards, 1 INT

• The Patriots’ defense deserves plenty of credit for holding the No. 1 offense in the league scoreless over the first two quarters. Big defensive plays from Jack Jones (an interception inside the 5-yard line) and Kyle Dugger (a 59-yard touchdown after a Goff fumble) have been a big reason why, but Matthew Judon’s two sacks have also helped the New England defense mostly dictate this one so far.

• Jack Jones has arguably made the two best defensive plays of the season for the Patriots – the pick-six against the Packers and the incredibly athletic interception in the first quarter against the Lions. As we noted in the pregame, it’s not a stretch to say that the rookie has already supplanted older players like Shaun Wade on the depth chart.

• The Patriots weren’t able to take advantage of some good field position in the early going — they got the ball on the Detroit 45-yard line after stopping the Lions on fourth down, but settled for a field goal.

However, on that offensive sequence, Detroit defensive back Savion Smith went down with an unspecified injury. He was carted off, and I have to imagine that what happened had an impact on both teams over the new few plays, at least from an energy standpoint. Given the circumstances, I’m willing to give them a mulligan for that series.

• That being said, two trips to the red zone and two field goals to start the game isn’t the sort of finishing kick you want from your offense. Against a high-powered offense like Detroit, you hope that missed opportunities like those don’t come back to haunt you.

• The ground game — Stevenson in particular — has been strong through two quarters. Stevenson very nearly pulled off a lengthy touchdown run, ultimately settling for a 49-yard dash, the longest run from scrimmage on the season for the Patriots. (Harris went down with a hamstring injury, which leaves New England with one healthy back the rest of the way.)

• Meyers (in his return from injury) has also provided Zappe with a nice security blanket, making two important third-down grabs to help keep the offense moving. In all, the offensive game plan has been mostly OK, with Zappe running a tight, efficient offense. (The 23-yard pass play to Hunter Henry in the first quarter was the second-longest of the season for Zappe.)

• The Patriots turned the ball over for the 10th time this season midway through the second quarter when Agholor couldn’t maintain possession after a catch. (The first one came against the Ravens.) Those unforced errors are tough to overcome.

• By my estimation, the first snaps of the afternoon for rookie Tyquan Thornton came midway through the second quarter. The youngster didn’t get any targets. That being said, the other rookies — Zappe, Cole Strange, Jack Jones — all had a very good first half.

• Special teams has had more good than bad. Nick Folk has been his usually reliable self, connecting on field goal chances from 37, 32, and 44 yards. However, a 47-yard kick return from Maurice Alexander at the start of the second quarter is not the sort of complementary football you’re looking for from your special teams unit. (Marcus Jones also bobbled a punt return midway through the second quarter, but New England was able to maintain possession.)

• The Patriots will get the ball to start the second half, and a chance to really put a stamp on this one.

Patriots lead 16-0 at halftime — 2:26 p.m.

Patriots 16, Lions 0 | End 2nd quarter

The Patriots tacked on a 44-yard field goal by Nick Folk as time expired in the first half. It’s 16-0 at halftime.

Fumble return adds to Patriots’ lead — 2:09 p.m.

Patriots 13, Lions 0 | 3:26 left 2nd quarter

Kyle Dugger scooped up a Jared Goff fumble on fourth down and returned it for a touchdown to add to the Patriots’ lead. Matthew Judon chased Goff out of the pocket and forced a fumble.

It was a big-time sequence with a lot to unpack.

• The Lions were going for it on fourth-and-9 because they have had all sorts of issues at the kicker position, but I’m not sure that was the case to get all that aggressive.

• Matthew Judon did an excellent job getting pressure on Goff. He continues to have an excellent year on the edge.

• Well-done scoop-and-score exercise there by Kyle Dugger, who took it 59 yards for the first touchdown of the afternoon. Just a very good sequence there for New England, and a lousy one for the Lions. It’s 13-0 with 3:26 to go in the first half.

Lions take one away — 2:03 p.m.

Great play by Detroit’s DeShon Elliott, who artfully intercepted a deflected ball (it was intended for Nelson Agholor). It’s the first interception of Zappe’s professional career, and the Lions take over at the 50 with 7:32 to go in the first half.

Damien Harris questionable to return for Patriots — 2:01 p.m.

Running back Damien Harris is questionable to return to Sunday’s game because of a hamstring injury, the Patriots announced.

Another sack for Matthew Judon — 1:53 p.m.

Matthew Judon just got a third-down sack to force a Detroit punt. Mr. Red Sleeves became the first the first Patriots player to start a season with a sack in each of the first five games. (The last player in the NFL to accomplish a sack in the first five games of the season was Clay Matthews with the Rams in 2019, when he had a sack in each of he first six games of the season.)

After a dicey moment there on the punt return — don’t make me regret showing faith in you, Marcus Jones — New England will get the ball at its own 13-yard line with 10:03 left in the first half.

Patriots add another field goal — 1:44 p.m.

Patriots 6, Lions 0 | 14:14 left 2nd quarter

The Patriots take a 6-0 lead on a 32-yard field goal from Nick Folk with 14:14 left in the first half. The drive really started with a key third-down conversion on a pass from Zappe to Meyers that gave New England some breathing room.

Then, there was a great run by Stevenson, who broke through the initial wall, made one guy miss, kept his feet moving, and nearly finished off the drive with a touchdown. He ended with a 49-yard run, the longest run from scrimmage this season for New England.

Second straight offensive sequence where the Pats couldn’t finish things off; we’ll see if those missed opportunities come back to haunt them later in the day.

End first quarter: Patriots 3, Lions 0 — 1:41 p.m.

New England is up 3-0 after one quarter.

Zappe: 4-5, 46 yards

Stevenson: 5 carries, 60 yards

Henry: 1 catch, 2 targets, 23 yards

Jack Jones delivers another big play — 1:32 p.m.

Jack Jones has delivered another big defensive play. The rookie defensive back picked off Lions QB Jared Goff deep in New England territory. The youngster did well to high-point the ball and come down in bounds with possession. It was a sensational defensive play for the youngster, who now has a pair of interceptions the last two games. The Patriots will get the ball at their own three-yard line with 5:32 left in the first quarter.

Jack Jones rose to the occasion for a first-quarter interception.Nick Grace/Getty

Patriots score first — 1:25 p.m.

Patriots 3, Lions 0 | 8:50 left 1st quarter

Zappe to Henry for 23 yards got the drive started nicely — the second-longest connection of the season for the young quarterback. (Detroit cornerback Savion Smith went down with an injury on the play, and was taken off in an ambulance.)

New England couldn’t finish off the drive with a touchdown, ultimately settling for a 37-yard field goal from Nick Folk. Folk’s FG was his league-best 59th straight from inside 50 yards. It’s 3-0 New England with 8:47 left in the first quarter.

Lions player injured — 1:20 p.m.

On a pass play from Zappe to Hunter Henry – the second play from scrimmage for the New England offense – Detroit cornerback Savion Smith went down with an unspecified injury. An ambulance was called out.

He’s been taken to a local hospital to be evaluated for a neck injury, per an announcement in the press box.

Big stop for Patriots — 1:11 p.m.

Some drama on the Lions’ opening series as the Patriots were able to stop the Lions on a fourth-down opportunity. It was the first fourth-down stop of the year for the New England defense, a group that comes into this one without Lawrence Guy.

The Patriots will take over at the Detroit 45 with 11:10 remaining in the first quarter.

(One more note: Kyle Dugger made a great open-field tackle on a second-down pass in the flat to Raymond.)

Official Price prediction — 12:42 p.m.

Here’s a sentence you might not hear the rest of the season from me: I like the Patriots in a shootout here. New England has been inconsistent when it comes to putting up points this season, but the fact that the Patriots are home, Jakobi Meyers is back, the ground game continues to look impressive, and the Detroit defense can’t seem to stop anyone, this sets up to be the highest-scoring game of the season for New England. (As we said before, there’s a reason that all four Lions’ games this year have gone over.)

The Lions will get their points this afternoon, but I’m going to say the Patriots will come out of this one with a win. New England 31, Detroit 24.

A few quick takeaways from Scott Zolak’s gameday conversation with Patriots coach Bill Belichick on 98.5 The Sports Hub:

On spending less time than usual in pads this week: “I just thought it was the best thing for us,” he said. “We were not as heavy on contact. We got more mental reps. … I think we’ll be ready to go today.”

On quarterback Bailey Zappe making his first NFL start: “I think it was a good week for Bailey to get a lot of snaps. … The Lions do a lot of different things defensively. It’ll be a big challenge for us at the quarterback position, and just offensively as a whole.”

On receiver Tyquan Thornton being active, and if there’s a certain number of snaps he would like to see Thornton play. “We really don’t have a set number. … Without [tight end] Jonnu [Smith], we’ll probably have a few more receivers on the field than we have had at times this year.”

On facing Lions defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson: “He’s more of a weak-side player for them. … We’ll see — they’ve used him both sides, he’s played left and right.”

Pregame observations: Weather, snap counts, and more — 12:21 p.m.

• As we noted at the top, this sets up to be what will likely be one of the nicest days of the year for football. According to our pals at weather.com, temps will be in the upper 50s to low 60s in Foxborough this afternoon, with bright skies and no chance of precipitation. (For the record, through the first four games, the Patriots are 1-1 when the temps are 80 or above at kickoff, and 0-2 when it’s been in the 60s.)

• Offensive linemen Trent Brown, Michael Onwenu, and David Andrews have played 100 percent of the offensive snaps for the Patriots through the first four games (249 snaps). Devin McCourty is the only defensive player to be at 100 percent of the snaps through four games (252 snaps).

• In addition to their steadiness, half of that quartet has done well to avoid penalties — McCourty has not been flagged for a penalty this season. Brown was flagged for one, a hold in the opener against Miami, but that was declined.

Care to wager? — 12:07 p.m.

A few betting notes worth passing along, all per Bet Online:

• As befitting their status as the No. 1 offensive team in the league, every game the Lions have played in this year has hit the over. For the record, the most two wagered overs of the week (as of Friday) were Detroit and New England (45.5 points, which 74 percent of the people have bet on) and Green Bay and the New York Giants (41 points, which 66 percent of the people have wagered on).

Here are a few late Bailey Zappe wagers for today:

Bailey Zappe total passing yards: Over/Under: 212.5

Bailey Zappe total touchdown passes: Over: 1.5 TDs +140 (7/5); Under: 1.5 TDs -180 (5/9)

Bailey Zappe total interceptions: Over: 0.5 INT -165 (20/33); Under: 0.5 INT +135 (27/20)

Patriots-Lions by the numbers — 11:45 a.m.

A few numbers to keep an eye out for this afternoon:

• A win today will give Patriots coach Bill Belichick his 323rd win and put him one win away from tying George Halas for second place among all NFL coaches. Don Shula leads the list with 347 victories.

• With one sack today, linebacker Matthew Judon will become the first Patriots player to start a season with a sack in each of the first five games. (The last player in the NFL to accomplish a sack in the first five games of the season was Clay Matthews with the Rams, who had a sack in each of the first six games in 2019)

• Running back Damien Harris needs two rushing touchdowns today to move into a tie for 10th on the Patriots all-time rushing touchdown list with Tom Brady and Stevan Ridley.

• Defensive back Devin McCourty is one of three active players with at least 30 interceptions. He has 31 career picks, and needs one more to tie Baltimore’s Marcus Peters for the most interceptions among active players.

Inactives — 11:30 a.m.

Patriots: QB Mac Jones, DT Lawrence Guy, DE DaMarcus Mitchell, TE Jonnu Smith, DB Joshuah Bledsoe, CB Shaun Wade, RB Pierre Strong.

Lions: WR DJ Chark, DL John Cominsky, DL Charles Harris, S JuJu Hughes, T Matt Nelson, CB Amani Oruwariye, RB D’Andre Swift

Patriots inactives analysis: Quarterback Mac Jones (ankle) is no surprise. The second-year signal-caller tried to give it a go this week, but still appears to be at least a week away from returning to live action. Rookie Bailey Zappe will get the start in his place; he’ll be backed up by Garrett Gilbert, who was elevated from the practice squad over the weekend.

Defensive lineman Lawrence Guy (shoulder) was ruled out Friday because of a shoulder issue. Guy, one of the foundational elements of New England’s run defense, was out last week against the Packers. While that wasn’t the only reason Green Bay ran for 199 yards, it wasn’t coincidental. The rest of New England’s interior defenders need to do a better job against the run this week against Detroit than they did last week.

Defensive lineman DaMarcus Mitchell (concussion) was downgraded on Friday. While he’s not as valuable as Guy when it comes to defensive execution, his absence will test the New England depth chart up front.

Tight end Jonnu Smith (ankle) sustained an injury last week against the Packers, and was limited in practice on Thursday and Friday. Tight end Matthew Sokol was elevated from the practice squad over the weekend, and while he would only be pressed into significant snaps in an extreme situation, it will still give New England some additional depth at the position.

Cornerback Shaun Wade is a healthy scratch. Based on what we saw from Jack Jones last week against the Packers, it’s entirely likely that the rookie has surpassed Wade on the depth chart, at least temporarily. Jones flashed positively on several occasions in game action last Sunday against Green Bay.

Running back Pierre Strong is also a healthy scratch, and appears headed for the Shane Vereen/James White Rookie Redshirt Program.

Among the notable actives this afternoon for New England is wide receiver Tyquan Thornton — it should be the NFL debut for the speedy rookie out of Baylor. In addition, Jakobi Meyers and Jalen Mills, both of whom missed last week’s game against the Packers, are good to go.

Pregame scenes from Gillette — 11:06 a.m.

The tailgate scene was festive.Charles Krupa/Associated Press
There’s been no word from the Patriots if they were keeping eyes out in the parking lot for an emergency backup quarterback today.Michael Dwyer/Associated Press
Football tends to put fans in a rather merry mood.Charles Krupa/Associated Press
Apparently not everyone got the memo that today is throwback day.Michael Dwyer/Associated Press
Real fans know the Patriots have one win this season.Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

A note about today’s referee — 11:02 a.m.

Craig Wrolstad is the referee for today’s game between the Patriots and Lions. Wrolstad is in his ninth season as an NFL ref, and will be working his first Patriots game since Dec. 10, 2020. (New England is 2-2 in the last four Patriots games he’s worked.)

According to nflpenalties.com, his crew is relatively middle of the pack when it comes to flags — they’ve thrown 38 penalties flags for 315 yards (both twelfth-most in the league).

Pregame reading — 10:47 a.m.

The best way to get ready? Your pregame reading list:

Jim McBride: Patriots list Mac Jones as doubtful, setting up Bailey Zappe’s first NFL start Sunday

Nicole Yang: Patriots activate rookie Tyquan Thornton ahead of their game against the Lions

Nicole Yang: Bailey Zappe’s college coach knew he was ‘pretty special’ on his very first drive as a freshman at Houston Baptist

Dan Shaughnessy: Patriots get no slack this week against the Lions, and other thoughts

Chad Finn: Even if it’s Bailey Zappe’s first NFL start, Patriots should be able to handle the Lions

Nicole Yang: ‘It means everything’: Nigerian Patriots get a chance to honor their heritage and their immigrant parents

Ben Volin: The Lions have regrouped after Matt Patricia, but not everyone thought he was a bad coach there

Christopher Price: Patriots throwing it back this weekend with return of ‘Pat Patriot’

Khari Thompson: Six things to know about Patriots quarterback Garrett Gilbert

Ben Volin: For Everett’s Lewis Cine, a devastating injury 4,000 miles and an ocean away


Christopher Price can be reached at christopher.price@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at cpriceglobe.


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