The New England Patriots’ Week 15 game against the Las Vegas Raiders, and perhaps their playoff hopes as well, came to a spectacular end. With the game tied at 24 in the late fourth quarter, the Patriots called one final run play — presumably to let the clock run out and head to overtime.
Not everyone got that memo, though. Rhamondre Stevenson, who received the initial handoff, decided to lateral the football to wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, who then attempted to throw the ball back across the field to quarterback Mac Jones.
However, the ball ended up in the hands of Raiders linebacker Chandler Jones. The ex-Patriot returned the football 48 yards for a game-ending touchdown with not time left on the clock.
It was a stunning end to what was a competitive game. It also raised several questions — questions that were answered by the players after the game.
“The coaches gave us a play just to run the time out,” said Stevenson in his post-game press conference. “Just get down. There was only a couple seconds on the clock. I feel like I just have done just that and just gone down.”
When speaking about the play itself, there was no element of him pitching the ball back to Meyers or any other teammate.
“The play called was just a draw play,” he said. “Nothing more, nothing less than that. I’m supposed to know the situation, and I’m supposed to know how much time’s on the clock in critical situations. I failed to do that today, so it is what it is. ... The play started off with me with the ball, so if I didn’t pitch it back to him Jakobi wouldn’t have had the chance to do that.”
As for Jakobi Meyers, he too shouldered the blame for what went down.
“I was just trying to do too much. Trying to be a hero, I guess,” he said. “I was just doing too much. Should just have gone down.”
Like Stevenson, the wide receiver also pointed out that the plan was not for any laterals to take place and that he as well should have known the situation and acted accordingly.
“That was just me. That was me. I promise you, that was just me trying to make a play,” he said. “Just run the ball and go down, and get to overtime. I got the ball, and I tried to make a play.”
While Stevenson and Meyers — the Patriots’ two most productive skill position players this season — seem to carry the responsibility for the botched play, quarterback Mac Jones also pointed in his own direction. Speaking to reporters after the game, he pointed out that he should have made the tackle on Chandler Jones.
“I got to tackle the guy,” the sophomore QB said. “That’s on me. That’s my fault. I tackle him and we play for overtime. That’s on me. Not good enough by me.”
Ultimately, the Patriots did not make enough positive plays to begin with or else they would not have found themselves in that situation. At the end of the day, after all, all that matters is the end result: and that is the seventh loss of the season.