clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Lane Breakdown: 10 things we learned from the Patriots’ loss to the Raiders

Related: Instant analysis from Patriots’ 30-24 loss to Raiders

The New England Patriots lost in one of the most bizarre and frustrating ways in recent memory on Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders.

It was horrific, and something most Patriots fans probably would not like to think about ever again. But you’re here to read what we learned from the game, and I’m a man of the people, so here they are.

1. The Patriots can’t get out of their own way: We have to start at the end to talk about this game. With no time left on the clock, the game tied at 24, and virtually no chance of scoring points, Rhamondre Stevenson decided to lateral the ball to Jakobi Meyers who then inexplicably decided to throw the ball 25 yards backwards to Mac Jones. He hit a Jones, but unfortunately, it was the wrong one: Chandler Jones who plays for the Raiders. He stiff-armed Mac Jones to the moon and then ran in for a touchdown to win the game.

It was the worst play these eyes have ever seen. Even if Mac Jones was standing there by himself, he never had a chance to score, the play was completely pointless. The Patriots decided to catch the Raiders off guard by calling a draw — a deceptive but ultimately relatively safe play.

However, first Stevenson and then Meyers decided they wanted the game to end on that play. Given the situation, this has to be in the running for the worst play of all time. Losing in that fashion is just heartbreaking, and ultimately much worse than the Miami Miracle back in 2018.

2. Jakobi Meyers’ legacy will not be defined by one play: Yes, his final play was horrendous, but let’s not forget that Jakobi Meyers is one of the most reliable players on the Patriots roster. A guy that his teammates love, is always willing to do anything by for the team, and is probably the most consistent offensive player going all the way back to 2019.

Meyers is not an elite wide receiver, and he certainly played a big part in costing his team this game, but one play should not erase all the good things that he has done for this team the last four years.

3. The Patriots offense remains terrible after 14 games: The Patriots just have a bad offense. There is no way around that. The Raiders have one of the worst passing defenses in the league, and the Patriots could barely muster 100 yards against them.

There are many reasons for the ineptitude of the offense. Mac Jones was bad on Sunday, missing open receivers, and being a little late on his reads. The receivers simply couldn’t make plays, dropped passes, were not getting their feet down on the sideline, and did not win any 50-50 balls. The coaching staff had some very questionable moves, like not running the ball on the goal line in the first half, and not calling nearly enough play-action passes, even after running the ball down the Raiders throats.

It’s the perfect storm of awful, and as a result the Patriots are next to unwatchable when they have the ball.

4. The Patriots might have to think about a quarterback change: I have been a proponent of Mac Jones all season long, and have advocated for him being the starting QB throughout the year. Anyone watching Sunday’s game, however, can see that something is amiss, and that he is growing more frustrated by the game. Jones just doesn’t look like he’s having fun out there, and with his long-term development priority No. 1 it might be time to sit him down and give Bailey Zappe the reigns for the rest of the season.

First of all, it is impossible to tell how much growth Jones would show in this offense over the last few games, and the playoffs are all but a distant memory (more on that in a second). Zach Wilson was benched in New York primarily for his play, but also for his attitude. Something similar could happen in New England; turning Jones off and on again.

He is a better quarterback than Zappe, and there is a chance that he can be the long-term starter for the team. However, benching him these last three games could be what’s best for him and the team in the long term.

5. Mondre The Giant continues to dominate: One person who doesn’t stink on the Patriots offense is Rhamondre Stevenson. Yes, he played an active role in the disastrous final play but he also continues to dominate opposing defenses.

Sunday it was all about the running game, and he just always seems to find a way to get a few yards even when it looks like there is nothing there. Then, when he gets into the open field, he is deadly. Even with a questionable tag all week after suffering an ankle injury last week, he still was able to rack up over 170 rushing yards.

Stevenson has become one of the best backs in the league, and the Patriots are lucky to have him.

6. Marcus Jones shows he can lock down an elite wide receiver: Marcus Jones did give up a few plays on the Raiders final drive, including the questionable touchdown. However, he also shut down Davante Adams, one of the best receivers in the league, on Sunday.

Jones made a fantastic play on the first drive of the game, jumping in to knock the ball away on a deep post. Without Jalen Mills and Jack Jones, the third-round pick had to step in and played almost every defensive snap, while holding his own when matched up against Adams.

Jones stood his ground against bigger receivers in college, and he held up nicely in his first few tests in the NFL too. Yes, the last drive of the game — really just the touchdown — wasn’t great but corners give up plays all the time, so there is more reason to be enthused about it than worried.

7. Josh Uche continues to be a problem for opposing offenses: Josh Uche is the hottest pass rusher in the NFL right now, and he had another solid game on Sunday. He was able to rack up another half-sack, and forced another when he made Derek Carr step up in the pocket and right into fellow linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley.

Uche is tough to handle, and he’s been a problem for opposing offenses lately. Christian Barmore had a few nice pass rushing reps as well. Combine that with the play of Kyle Dugger, who had a pick-six to kickstart New England’s comeback, as well the Joneses, who have played well at corner, and the Patriots are building a solid young core on defense.

8. The Patriots are not good enough to survive bad officiating: The play that really made the most difference was the touchdown at the end of the game. It was pretty clear that Keelan Cole stepped out of bounds before getting his second foot down, but the officials refused to overturn the call, and so they awarded the touchdown to the Raiders. Afterwards, NFL VP of Officiating Walt Anderson said there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the play, but it was pretty obvious his toes went out of bounds.

This is the second time the Patriots have been screwed by a bad call by the officials that resulted in a touchdown, or in Hunter Henry’s case against Minnesota, a touchdown being taken off the board. The Patriots haven’t gotten much help from the officials this year, and they are not good enough to survive those types of things, unfortunately.

9. Special teams is an issue: The Patriots’ kicking game units got bailed out by a few calls against the Raiders, but they struggled to cover both punts and kickoffs on Sunday. They also had a punt blocked at the end of the first half, which led to a touchdown for the Raiders.

The Patriots have struggled in what is usually one of their most dominant phases of the game for much of this season. Special teams ultimately comes down to coaching, and the coaches have been struggling as of late as well. The Patriots need to clean things up or they are going to find new ways to lose football games.

10. The season is all but over: With the loss on Sunday, the Patriots move out of the playoff picture yet again. They are 7-7 and only one game away, but they also have three tough opponents left on the schedule, which makes it unlikely that they will be able to do enough to change their fate over the next few weeks. Even if they qualify, they probably will end up losing in the first round anyway.

It will be disappointing to see this team not make the playoffs, though, especially after performing above expectations last season. There is a lot of work to do to get back to where the Patriots want to be, and hopefully they will be able to get there next year. The chances of them doing that in 2022 are now next to none.