The New England Patriots lost a football game on Sunday in one of the most epic and inexplicable ways possible. Unfortunately for Patriots’ top wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, the harsh finger of blame will be pointed at him when the media, fans, and folks throughout the NFL universe discuss the final play of New England’s unbelievable 30-24 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Meyers’ failed attempt at a lateral fell into the hands of Las Vegas Raiders edge rusher Chandler Jones, who stiff-armed Mac Jones to the ground before running in for the game-winning TD with no time left on the clock. Despite the game being tied at 24 and the Patriots guaranteed an overtime finish–at the worst–Meyers and his teammate Rhamondre Stevenson tried to see if they could pull off a miracle and win it in regulation.
Meyers’ throw went several yards behind him and was intended for his quarterback, but he didn’t see the former Patriot and current Raiders defensive end, and the rest will live in infamy. To Meyers’ credit, he showed he was a stand-up guy. He spoke to the media just minutes after his egregious attempt to “be a hero.” Here is a look at Meyers explaining himself while speaking to reporters, per the Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels:
In case you missed it, here is the play in question:
Meyers said the play was to run the ball and head into overtime. It’s pretty easy to see; Meyers and the rest of the Patriots probably wish he had settled for that and taken their chances in the extra period.
How the Patriots Lost to the Raiders
Meyers’ error was the loudest reason for New England’s crushing defeat. However, there were other factors. A controversial Raiders touchdown was upheld after review with just over 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, making it 24-23 Patriots before the extra point tied the contest.
Raiders wide receiver Keelan Cole beat rookie Marcus Jones in a one-on-one situation, but the replay appeared to show the former’s left foot touching the out-of-bounds boundary in the end zone. Look at still shots of what many thought was the most definitive look available to referees, per WBZ’s Michael Hurley. The tweet also includes an official explanation for the decision.
This call and result gave the Patriots back the ball with 30 seconds remaining and two timeouts. New England didn’t play it conservatively until the final play call, as they attempted to allow Mac Jones to move the ball into field-goal range. Things didn’t go as planned.
Before the eventful final minute of the game, the Patriots stormed back from a 14-point deficit to take a 24-17 lead behind a mostly strong showing from the defense–anchored by a concerted effort to limit Davante Adams–and a powerful running game.
New England stifled Derek Carr and the Raiders offense most of the second half with Kyle Dugger perfectly reading a pass from the Las Vegas signal-caller, and turning a WR screen pass into a pick-six. New England held Adams to just four receptions for 28 yards, and they ran the ball for 206 yards, including 172 from Stevenson on just 19 carries.
While the run game was clicking, Mac Jones was less than spectacular all day with inaccurate passing. He missed several open receivers, including one in the end zone in the first quarter. Jones completed just 13 of 31 passes for 112 yards in one of the worst performances of his career–at least from a completion-percentage standpoint.
What Does Patriots Loss Mean for Their Playoff Hopes?
Luckily for the Patriots, the New York Jets also lost on Sunday (20-17 to the Detroit Lions), so they won’t lose ground to their AFC East rivals, and they still own the season tiebreaker over them thanks to a series sweep.
However, they did fall behind the Los Angeles Chargers on two fronts. The Chargers, who beat the Tennessee Titans 17-14 on Sunday, now have a better record at 8-6 compared to the Patriots’ 7-7, and the Bolts captured the conference-record tiebreaker with a 6-4 mark against the AFC. New England is 5-4 in conference games.
The Raiders improved to 6-8 on the season and are just one game behind the Patriots after the victory. In totality, this loss was the most damaging to New England’s postseason hopes so far this season. The emotional nature of the defeat and the cold, hard numbers create an imposing wall for New England to climb.
With three challenging games against the Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, and Buffalo Bills remaining on the schedule, the Patriots have their work cut out for them.