Disastrous last play sums up day of mistakes by Patriots
New England coach Bill Belichick uttered the same word 10 times during a postgame press conference that lasted a little more than four minutes.
It summed up the Patriots’ 30-24 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, with by far the biggest miscue coming on the final play of the game.
After falling behind 17-3 at halftime, the Patriots scored 21 unanswered points to take a 24-17 lead with less than four minutes remaining.
But Las Vegas — which came in 0-4 when leading by double digits at halftime, the first team since at least 1930 to lose four times in a season when leading by double digits at the half — answered with a pair of touchdowns in the final 37 seconds.
“Collectively made too many mistakes and gave up some big plays that were obviously the difference in the game,” Belichick said.
One mistake in particular handed the Raiders the win and knocked the Patriots (7-7) out of playoff position in the AFC.
With the game tied, New England running back Rhamondre Stevenson gained 23 yards on the final play before pitching the ball to wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, who then backtracked before heaving it toward quarterback Mac Jones. Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones snagged the ball, stiff-armed Mac Jones and raced 48 yards for the walk-off win.
“Obviously we made a mistake on it,” Belichick added. “Made a mistake on the play.”
Both Stevenson and Meyers took responsibility, with each saying it was their job to take a knee and send the game to overtime.
“The play call was just a draw play — nothing more, nothing less than that,” Stevenson said. “I’m supposed to know the situation. I’m supposed to know how much time is on the clock in critical situations and I failed to do that today.”
Stevenson said the play started with him, and had he never pitched the ball to Meyers, the ensuing touchdown would have never taken place.
Meyers said he was the one trying to be a hero by extending the play.
“That ain’t his fault. He gave me the ball, I got to be smart with it,” Meyers said. “I thought I saw Mac open. I didn’t see Chandler Jones at the time. Just thought he was open, tried to get it to him, then let him try to make a play with it. But the score was tied, so like I said, I should have just laid down.”
Belichick pointed to plenty of mistakes earlier in the game.
A bad snap resulted in a blocked punt. A false start led to a New England punt with just over two minutes left. And the Patriots allowed the Raiders to convert a fourth-and-10 on their tying drive.
“Obviously we’ve got to do a better job playing situational football and not make critical mistakes in the game,” Belichick said. “We need to try to eliminate all the mistakes that we made. You just can’t do this in this league. Got to work to eliminate those and continue to play the good football that we play, but we just had too many mistakes and too many bad plays to win. That was obvious.”