Mac Jones wasn't able to lead the New England Patriots to a win over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night, but the rookie quarterback did give Pats fans hope for the future with his performance.
On a night that some people compared to a Super Bowl-like atmosphere at Gillette Stadium, Jones proved he was ready for primetime.
The 2021 first-round draft pick completed 31 of 40 pass attempts for 275 yards with two touchdowns and one interception (which came on a tipped pass). Jones completed 19 consecutive passes during a stretch between the third and fourth quarters -- the longest such streak by a rookie quarterback in 30 years.
Jones helped lead the Patriots into field goal range with a minute left in the fourth quarter, but Nick Folk's 56-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright, resulting in a 19-17 win for the Bucs.
Jones was able to catch up to Brady after the game, and he revealed in his postgame press conference what message the seven-time Super Bowl champion had for him during that exchange.
"Yeah, after the game, I got a chance to congratulate him on the win and he's a great quarterback and yeah, he played well tonight and that's pretty much all there was to it," Jones said.
He added: "(Brady) just told me to keep my head up and keep working."
The Patriots don't have time for moral victories. They're 1-3, and not many teams that lose three of their first four games go on to make the playoffs.
Jones is not content with his performance through four games. The University of Alabama product understands both he and the team have a lot of room for improvement.
"I think just coming in and learning from a lot of the older guys, I have a long way to go, and I just try to put my best foot forward every day, and we all want to win. So it sucks right now, but I think we have to take it for a positive and just trust our leaders," Jones said.
"We have great leadership on the team, and I can do a better job in practice just being vocal, getting everybody going and I think we made strides but we just have to listen to our leaders and not lose hope. We have a long season ahead and there's a lot of work to do and we have a lot of progress to make, so we will."