The once proud New England Patriots have the worse team in the AFC and no answers

The Patriots lost their fourth straight game on Sunday. What’s worse: Two of the losses have come against other last-place teams, the Commanders and Giants.

Bill Belichick already has passed Don Shula on one career list – just not the one the Patriots coach was hoping for.

With Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants, Belichick overtook the longtime Miami mentor on the NFL’s coaching losses list. Belichick’s 174 losses, including playoffs, now trails only Tom Landry’s 178.

A six-time Super Bowl champion who had once been considered the consensus best coach in NFL history, Belichick’s reputation has plummeted since Tom Brady left. Without Belichick, Brady won another Super Bowl in his first season with the Buccaneers; without Brady, Belichick is 27-35 in the past four years (82-99 in his career).

New York Giants linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) sacks New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) during the second quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 26, in East Rutherford, N.J. (Photo: Seth Wenig/AP)

And his once-certain coronation as the winningest coach in NFL history has stalled.

The Patriots (2-9) lost their fourth straight game on Sunday. What’s worse: Two of the losses have come against other last-place teams, the Commanders and Giants. New England is the worst team in the AFC.

Belichick, 71, remains stuck on 331 wins, including the postseason, trailing Shula’s 347.

It once looked like he would get there as soon as next season.

Now, he might never make it. And the chances of him getting there in New England are vanishing.

“That’s my head coach. I believe in him,” center David Andrews said. “He brought me in this league. I’ll go down fighting with him.”

WHAT’S WORKING

One game after losing 10-6 to the Indianapolis Colts, the Patriots defense again allowed just 10 points. The bad news: New England lost both of those games. The Patriots also had a season-high six sacks.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Mac Jones has now been benched four times this season, including the last two games. After the 2021 first-round draft choice went 12 for 21 for 89 yards with two interceptions in the first half, Bailey Zappe came in for the start of the third quarter.

On his first drive, the backup went 6 for 6 and led New England to its only touchdown. But Zappe completed only three of his next eight passes, and also threw an interception.

“When you don’t win, it’s a missed opportunity,” Zappe said.

Asked Monday if he would consider bringing another quarterback in, Belichick said: “I don’t really see that right now.”

“I wouldn’t rule anything out, anything that would help our team,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen. If I think there’s somebody, if our pro scouting department thinks there is somebody that would help us, we’ll certainly listen to it and take a look at it, at any position. … Nobody that comes to mind, but we’ll see.”

STOCK UP

Running back Rhamondre Stevenson had a season-high 98 yards rushing. With five catches for 9 yards, he surpassed 100 yards from scrimmage for the third straight game. He’s the first Patriot to do that since Sony Michel in 2018 and only the second in the last 10 years.

STOCK DOWN

The Patriots traded up in the draft to select kicker Chad Ryland in the fourth round, and it hasn’t paid off. The rookie placekicker missed a 35-yard field goal that would have tied the game in the final seconds.

“That’s obviously a kick I have to knock down, I have knocked down, and I’ll knock down in the future,” he said. “I just have to continue to work in the right direction.”

In all, Ryland is 12 for 18 on field goals and 14 for 14 on extra points since beating out veteran Nick Folk in training camp. Folk is 39 for 40 on all kicks with Tennessee.

Ryland also missed a 35-yarder against the Colts in Week 10.

“Chad’s a very talented player,” Belichick said on his Monday radio appearance. “But this is two weeks in a row we’ve basically missed extra points. So, it’s not good enough.”

INJURIES

Rookie Demario Douglas left the game after defender Cam Brown clotheslined him during a punt return. Brown’s arm hit Douglas in the head, and the Patriots running back went down, losing the ball in the process. (It went out of bounds and New England retained possession.)

After he came off the field, Douglas was announced as doubtful to return and later downgraded to out.

KEY NUMBER

30 years — That’s how long it’s been since a team has given up 10 points in back-to-back games and lost.

NEXT STEPS

The Patriots need to find a quarterback before they host the Chargers on Sunday.

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