5 takeaways from the Patriots’ shocking collapse against the Raiders
It was a nightmare ending to a back-and-forth game for New England.
In one of the most stunning endings to any NFL game in recent memory, the Patriots lost 30-24 to the Raiders on Sunday after Chandler Jones recovered a Jakobi Meyers lateral attempt on the final play of the game and ran it 48 yards for the walk-off touchdown.
The defeat sends the Patriots back to .500 at 7-7, and in the most demoralizing of ways:
Here are a few takeaways:
It was a truly unbelievable final play.
Any discussion of Sunday’s Patriots-Raiders matchup begins and ends with Jones’s bizarre, unbelievable touchdown to win it.
The series of events that had to transpire for a Raiders touchdown to even occur — Rhamondre Stevenson not being tackled, Meyers (a former quarterback who the Patriots trust to throw the ball from time to time) making the inexplicably bad lateral, Mac Jones missing the tackle — seemed genuinely impossible.
It was only when the Raiders’ defensive end, a former Patriot, was running free into the end zone with no time remaining that the full weight of what had just happened fell on fans like a ton of bricks.
Given also the wider circumstances, with the Patriots fighting for a potential playoff berth, the collapse could have catastrophic implications.
The game was tied because of a controversial call.
After blowing a two-touchdown lead — Las Vegas held a commanding 17-3 edge at halftime — the Raiders trailed 24-17 with just over two minutes remaining.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr moved Las Vegas’s offense to the Patriots’ 30-yard line before finding Keelan Cole in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. The score put the Raiders an extra point away from tying the game.
Still, upon further review, Cole’s touchdown looked to have potentially been out of bounds. His left foot appeared to be on the line:
In the end, the ruling on the field (a Raiders touchdown) was upheld.
“We looked at every available angle and it was not clear and obvious that the foot was on the white,” said NFL officiating executive Walt Anderson in a postgame interview with ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “It was very tight, very close. There was no shot that we could see – we even enhanced and blew up the views that we had. There was nothing that was clear and obvious that his foot was touching the white.”
It was a controversial decision that loomed large in the end. Patriots receiver DeVante Parker, who missed the game due to an injury, let his thoughts on the matter be known in a tweet:
The Patriots’ defense looked great in the second half…until the Raiders’ final drive.
Cole’s touchdown was the culmination of a nine-play, 81-yard drive from the Raiders. It was by far the longest and most successful Las Vegas offensive sequence of the entire second half.
After a disappointing first half in which penalties and poor red zone defense allowed the Raiders to build a 14-point lead, New England began playing at a much higher level.
Throughout most of the second half, the Patriots thwarted whatever former assistant coach Josh McDaniels tried to do with the Raiders’ offense. In six second half possessions prior to the final drive, Las Vegas averaged six yards per drive and punted five consecutive times. That period also included Kyle Dugger’s impressive interception return for a touchdown to help jumpstart New England’s comeback:
Yet just as it appeared New England had Carr and the Raiders’ offense shut completely down, they were unable to close the door fully.
Just after the two-minute warning, Las Vegas faced a 4th and 10 from the Raiders’ own 19-yard line. The game could’ve essentially ended there, but Carr completed a 12-yard pass to wide receiver Mack Hollins to keep it going.
From that point, New England was unable to get pressure and make a stop.
As good as the defense looked for most of the second half, the circumstances of the Raiders’ final drive — however controversial Cole’s touchdown catch was — will undoubtedly be disappointing to Bill Belichick when the tape is reviewed.
The offense and play-calling remains a mess.
Jones finished the game 13 of 31 for 112 passing yards. The Patriots converted just two of 13 third down opportunities. Jakobi Meyers was by far the team’s leading receiver on Sunday with just two catches for 47 yards.
In all, it was another miserable day for the New England passing game. And just as Jones struggled a week ago against a weak Cardinals’ defense, he did so again against a Raiders passing defense that entered the day ranked 29th in the NFL.
Much of the blame will inevitably fall once again on Patriots’ offensive assistant coach (and play-caller) Matt Patricia. New England’s offense was discombobulated for much of the afternoon.
One particularly frustrating sequence came at the end of the Patriots’ second drive of the game. After a Raiders’ pass interference call placed the ball at the Las Vegas two-yard line, the Patriots proceeded to run four plays (and spend two timeouts) without finding the end zone. Even when it appeared New England had finally scored on fourth and goal, a Jonnu Smith false start negated it.
The drive concluded with a disappointing field goal, summarizing the ongoing frustrations on offense.
Rhamondre Stevenson was back in a big way.
Having picked up an ankle injury in the win over the Cardinals on Monday night, Stevenson was a game-time decision for the Patriots on Sunday.
The 24-year-old ended up playing and having what was — insolation of the actual final score — a great day. He totaled 172 yards on 19 carries.
His 34-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter gave the Patriots a late lead in what proved to be the high point of the day for New England fans:
Yet Stevenson, who began the catastrophic final play, will have his day defined by the defeat like every other Patriots player. As excellent a game as he had, the final result overrides everything else.
With the loss, the Patriots fell to eighth in the AFC conference standings, one spot out of the current playoff picture. New England will face the Bengals next on Saturday, Dec. 24 at 1 p.m.
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