Patriots throw away game on disastrous lateral play, lose to Raiders 30-24

BOSTON — The Patriots looked like they had an excellent comeback win in their back pocket. Then it looked like they at least had an overtime period to try to complete that win.

And then chaos broke out.

Facing a third-and-10 from their own 45-yard line with just 3 seconds left to play in a 24-24 game, the Patriots ran an inside handoff to Rhamondre Stevenson. The back ran for 23 yards before running out of space, and he lateraled the ball back to Jakobi Meyers. From there, Meyers had nowhere to go, but he opted to chuck the ball back to midfield to quarterback Mac Jones.

Instead of completing that lateral, Meyers threw the ball directly to Chandler Jones. The former Patriot ran right over Mac Jones and rumbled 48 yards for the walk-off touchdown.

That play certainly unseats the Miami Miracle as the wildest way for the Patriots to lose a regular-season game.

Meyers said that he made the decision to throw the ball on his own.

“I didn’t see the dude back there. I tried to throw him the ball. Like I said, I was just doing too much, you know what I’m saying? I should have just went down with the ball,” Meyers explained. “That was me. No, I promise you, that was just me trying to make a play.”

Meyers added: “I was trying to do too much. Trying to be a hero, I guess.”

The game was tied at 24-24 after the NFL controversially ruled that Keelan Cole’s toe came down in bounds on the game-tying touchdown in the final minute of regulation.

The Patriots had been dominant for the majority of the second half, with the defense forcing five straight punts after a Kyle Dugger pick-six. The New England offense finally scored its first touchdown of the game with just under four minutes left in the fourth quarter, giving New England a 24-17 lead.

Alas, it didn’t hold. And the Patriots are now 7-7, falling out of a playoff spot with the loss.

Mac Jones completed just 13 of his 31 passes for 112 yards with no touchdowns or picks. Stevenson ran for 172 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. The Patriots ran for 226 yards as a team.

The Raiders scored before halftime after blocking a Patriots punt, taking a 17-3 lead into halftime. The Raiders very nearly blew their fifth double-digit halftime lead of the season, but a late miracle prevented that from happening.

The Raiders scored on the opening possession of the game, though they had to settle for a field goal after penalties pushed them out of the red zone and back to the 31-yard line. From a Patriots perspective, rookie Marcus Jones turning on the afterburners to break up a deep shot to Davante Adams stood as the highlight of this drive, which ended with a 49-yard field goal from Daniel Carlson.

The teams exchanged punts before the Patriots mounted their first scoring drive, when they too had to settle for a field goal. After a pass interference penalty set up a first-and-goal from the 2-yard line, the Patriots ran for one yard, threw incomplete, called timeout (a sideline call which negated an on-field touchdown), threw incomplete, tried to go for it on fourth down, scored on that attempt with a QB sneak, only to have it come back due to a false start on Jonnu Smith. 

The penalty pushed the ball back to the 6-yard line, so New England settled for a field goal, tying the game at 3-3.

The Raiders responded with an 11-play, 86-yard touchdown drive, capped with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to a wide-open Darren Waller.

The Patriots’ offensive issues continued on their next drive, as they took a delay of game penalty after a first-down run because the play call didn’t make it in from the sideline in time to run a play on second down. The Patriots would end up going three-and-out.

The game appeared to be headed to halftime with the score at 10-3, but the Patriots weren’t set at the snap for a punt with 36 seconds left in the quarter. Malcolm Koonce was unblocked en route to easily blocking Michael Palardy’s punt, and the Raiders gained possession at the New England 20-yard line.

After a couple of penalties on the secondary, Carr hit Mack Hollins for a 5-yard touchdown pass.

The Patriots got that touchdown back after halftime, though, when Kyle Dugger picked off Derek Carr on a quick pass to Adams, before returning it untouched for a pick-six.

The Patriots’ next possession began at their own 2-yard line, after some dynamite execution from Las Vegas’ punt team. But Stevenson broke a 26-yard run on the first play of the drive. New England would end up driving just inside the 30-yard line, with Nick Folk booting a 47-yard field goal to cut the Raiders’ lead to 17-13.

The Raiders then committed a costly illegal block above the waist penalty on the ensuing kickoff, negating a 37-yard return and setting the Raiders up at their own 9-yard line. They’d end up moving backward before punting after a three-and-out. Another Raiders penalty — this one an illegal contact penalty on a third-and-7 — gave the Patriots a free first down near midfield. Nick Folk would end up kicking a 54-yard field goal to cut the Raiders’ lead to just one point with 12:52 left to play.

The Patriots’ defense continued to keep the heat on the Raiders, forcing two more punts with the score still at 17-16. New England then got its first offensive touchdown of the game on just two plays. First, Mac Jones hit a wide-open Jakobi Meyers for a 39-yard catch-and-run up the right seam. On the next snap, Stevenson broke through the line and took off for a 34-yard touchdown run. Jones completed a pass to Meyers to convert the 2-point conversion, giving New England a 24-17 lead with less than four minutes to play.

The Patriots’ defense forced another Vegas punt, giving New England a chance to run a four-minute offense and ice the game. But a false start penalty set them back, and New England ended up punting back to the Raiders with just over two minutes to play.

The Raiders converted a fourth-and-10 and started moving the ball up the field, setting up the chaos that took place at the end of the game.

Now 7-7 on the year, the Patriots return home from their two-game road trip to host the Bengals on Christmas Eve at 1 p.m. this coming Saturday.

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