The New England Patriots couldn’t have written an uglier ending to Sunday’s road game against the Las Vegas Raiders.
After overcoming a 17-3 deficit at halftime, the team completely imploded in the second-half with one of the most embarrassing fourth-quarter performances in franchise history.
Despite having the game tied and headed into overtime, the Patriots drew up an offensive play with three seconds left on the clock, which led to a lateral pass attempt from wideout Jakobi Meyers being picked off and taken into the end zone for a walk-off touchdown by Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones.
Here are the winners and losers from the game.
Loser: Adrian Phillips
The Raiders’ first touchdown of the game came on a blown defensive play after a slip by Adrian Phillips led to a wide-open Darren Waller waltzing right into the end zone.
It doesn’t get much uglier than this.
.@Rackkwall83, we missed you
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) December 18, 2022
With the offense clearly struggling, the Patriots can’t afford blown plays like this on defense. But then again, it just speaks to a bigger issue at hand for a team that seems to get in its own way more often than not.
It’s hard to win games when giving up free touchdowns.
Loser: Joe Cordona
What in the world was Jabrill Peppers pointing at?
Better yet, what was long snapper Joe Cardona doing? The rest of the special teams unit, particularly Peppers, wasn’t ready for the snap that led to the blocked punt for the Raiders, which set them up with great field position to score an easy touchdown. It was just one of many painful mistakes that ended up costing New England the game.
Raiders got the invite to the block party! ✋
— NFL (@NFL) December 18, 2022
The Patriots have long been a team that has prided itself on special teams play, but this was a seriously bad blunder that put the team in an even deeper hole on the road.
It hurts even more considering it completely could have been avoided, but then again, self-inflicted wounds have been a common theme for the Patriots this season.
This blunder by Cardona was par for the course.
Winner: Kyle Dugger
Patriots safety Kyle Dugger tried to put the team on his back by nabbing a pick-six for his second touchdown of the season. It has often taken a big defensive play to breathe life in this Patriots team, and it was Dugger stepping up and scoring the team’s first touchdown of the game.
Kyle Dugger walks in for the pick-six ‼️
— NFL (@NFL) December 18, 2022
Dugger read the play the entire way and jumped the route for an easy six points. The 2020 second-round draft pick has quickly morphed into one of the better defensive backs in the league with room to grow.
It’s a good thing for the Patriots considering they’ll need more plays exactly like this one if they have any hopes of making a playoff run.
Loser: Jakobi Meyers
This one hurts.
Jakobi Meyers was obviously emotional after the game following his failed lateral pass that resulted in Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones scoring the game-winning touchdown. It might have been the ugliest NFL play we’ve seen all season.
It’s tough to watch because Meyers really is a good guy who has stepped up and made big plays for the Patriots in so many other moments. But the stench from this one is going to be hard to wash off.
Still, you have to commend Meyers for taking ownership of the situation and not running away from it.
Loser: Bill Belichick
It would be easy to point the finger at Jakobi Meyers or Matt Patricia for the odd ending sequence to the game, but coach Bill Belichick deserves egg on his face for this latest Patriots blunder.
Meyers should have never been put in position to make that mistake because the Patriots should have never even called a play in that situation. That was the moment where Belichick should have stepped in and called for the team to simply down the ball and take the game into overtime.
But he let things continue to play out, and it resulted in one of the most embarrassing finishes in NFL history.
Winner: Rhamondre Stevenson
Rhamondre Stevenson made a big mistake by choosing to toss the ill-fated lateral to Jakobi Meyers that set the stage for the turnover that ended the game for the Patriots.
However, it’s hard to paint the second-year running back a loser on a day when he carried the entire offense on his back. He came into the game less than 100 percent due to an ankle injury sustained in the Patriots’ win over the Arizona Cardinals last Monday night, and he still ran for 172 yards and one touchdown.
Rhamondre Stevenson gives the Patriots the lead!
— NFL (@NFL) December 18, 2022
It’s clear that Stevenson has the potential to be an elite running back in the NFL for years to come. He’s been one of the few positives in what has otherwise been a greatly disappointing season.
Winner: Marcus Jones
Another positive for the Patriots this season has been the rapid development of rookie defensive back Marcus Jones. Not only is he a force on special teams, who can also make plays on offense, but people seem to forget he’s also a terrific defender.
Imagine being a rookie lining up against one of the best receivers in football, Davante Adams, and holding him to only four catches for 28 yards. Granted, he had help over the top, but Jones more than held his own against the All-Pro wideout, despite being completely undersized.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 18, 2022
There will never be another Deion Sanders, but if this season is any indication, Jones could come closer than anything we’ve seen from this generation of NFL players.
Loser: Mac Jones
Mac Jones can’t escape this one without criticism.
Look, the offense isn’t built for him to succeed, and anyone that has watched this team understands that. The offensive line is a mess, and Matt Patricia calling plays has been an absolute failure. Throw in the lackluster receiving corps and it was always a disaster waiting to happen.
But there were some seriously bad throws from Mac Jones in Sunday’s loss. He also let his frustrations get the best of him at times during the game in which he finished throwing 13-of-31 for 112 yards and no touchdowns.
Yes, we all love to see him show some fire on the football field, but there’s also a time to be the calming force the team needs to execute properly.
The Patriots just looked unsettled and flustered for most of the game.