The New England Patriots have rarely benched a quarterback during a game over the last 20 years, but head coach Bill Belichick had little choice Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
New England's offense couldn't generate enough yards or any consistency with Cam Newton at quarterback, and he was replaced by Jarrett Stidham for the team's first drive of the fourth quarter. The 49ers led 33-6 at the time of the switch.
It is Stidham's second appearance of the season. He also replaced Brian Hoyer in the second half of the Patriots' Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Newton completed nine of 15 pass attempts for 98 yards with zero passing touchdowns and three interceptions against the 49ers. He's now thrown for just 255 yards with zero passing touchdowns and five interceptions over the last two games.
The Patriots offense has scored only one offensive touchdown in the last two games, as of this writing. Newton's lackluster play isn't the only reason for that, but it's certainly a key factor in these struggles. He has not been a quality passer this season outside of Week 2 versus the Seattle Seahawks. Newton has thrown two touchdown passes with seven interceptions in five games.
There will be plenty of debate in the coming week over whether the Patriots should just roll with Stidham as the starting quarterback going forward.