Matching up against one of the worst statical defenses in the league on Sunday, it was another shaky offensive performance from the New England Patriots. Largely because they continue to make things more difficult on themselves.
“Unfortunately here today we had too many - collectively made too many mistakes and gave up some big plays that were obviously the difference in the game,” Bill Belichick explained postgame.
Perhaps nothing portrayed these issues more then a red area sequence in the second quarter. After a defensive pass interference penalty, New England’s offense was set up at the Vegas two-yard line. Things then fell apart as the overthinking began.
Lined up in shotgun, Rhamondre Stevenson was stuffed for a one-yard gain. Mac Jones’ second-down pass sailed over the head of an open Jonnu Smith. On third-down, Jones appeared to hit Meyers for a touchdown but the play was blown dead as New England instead used a timeout.
“We didn't really have the play right,” Belichick said. “We didn't have the play right so I took the timeout.”
On third-and-goal following the timeout, New England remained in the shotgun and Jones’ quick pass to Nelson Agholor fell incomplete.
After Mac Jones waved off the field goal unit to go for it on fourth-down, the operational issues continued. It appeared the Patriots were taking too long in getting the correct personnel on the field, forcing them to burn a second timeout.
Jones then kept it himself on fourth-down and scored on a quarterback sneak. However, that play was called back as Jonnu Smith was not set and flagged for a false start. New England was then forced to settle for a field goal and the frustrations were clear.
“Obviously a mistake on that play too,” Belichick explained.
That sequence was not the only time the Patriots struggled with some of the simple things on Sunday. There were multiple occasions where it appeared players were unaware of the play, highlighted by Hunter Henry with his palms up as New England took a delay of game penalty.
“We need to try and eliminate all the mistakes we made. All of us,” Belichick said.
Mistakes extended beyond the offense, as well. On the blocked punt in the second quarter, several players on the were not fully ready when the ball was snapped.
Following the crushing last-second defeat - courtesy of another fatal mistake - the Patriots fell out of their AFC Wild Card spot and no longer control their fate. If they want any hope of sneaking back into the dance they can not continue to make things harder on themselves, even though they have been all season long.
“Just can't do that in this league and it cost us,” Belichick said. “Got to work to eliminate those and play the good football that we played. But, we just had too many mistakes and too many bad plays to win, that was obvious.”