With the game tied at 24 with only three seconds left on the clock, the Patriots called a draw to either go for the home run or at the very least run the clock out and head to overtime. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson indeed made a sizable gain on the play, but it became clear he would not reach the end zone.
What happened next can only be described as a series of panic moves. Stevenson pitched the ball back to teammate Jakobi Meyers, seemingly because he appeared to have a better angle. Meyers, however, then turned around and attempted to throw a lateral across the field to quarterback Mac Jones.
The ball ended up in the hands of Las Vegas defender Chandler Jones. 48 yards later, the game was over. Patriots 24, Raiders 30.
After the game, Meyers shouldered the blame for the ill-fated play.
“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.”
Meyers’ teammates, however, were not that quick to point any fingers.
“It’s unfortunate. Our guys are trying to make a play to win the game,” said Matthew Slater in the locker room after the game. “There’s nobody we trust more on the team than Jakobi and Mondre, so we live with the decisions they make. I’ve got no problem with it. ...
“It’s not his fault. We wouldn’t be in the game without him. He’s one of the most dependable, smartest, toughest football players on this team, and we’ll go down with him 10 out of 10 times.”
Before the final play of the game, Meyers caught two passes for a team-high 47 yards. On what was another disappointing day for the Patriots’ passing offense, he made two of the team’s biggest plays.
First, Meyers caught a 39-yard pass from quarterback Mac Jones that set up a Stevenson touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Then, he and the sophomore QB connected on a two-point conversion to put the Patriots up 24-17.
“Jakobi is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had,” Jones said about his No. 1 target. “He’s a fighter, and he does everything he can to try and help the team. Obviously, you’d have to ask Coach about it and see what our plan was. At the end of the day, the guy’s out there fighting and trying to compete to win the game, and there’s a lot of things I could have done better in the game so we were not even in that situation.
“When I don’t play very well, we’re in that situation, and it’s terrible. It’s tough, but I love Jakobi, and I love all the guys on our team. It’s not to Jakobi’s fault. I think we just got to watch it and see what we can do better.”
Now at 7-7 and once again outside the playoff picture, the Patriots likely will have to win out in order to make the tournament for a second straight year. In order to do that, they need their most productive wide receiver on his A-game yet again — as both a pass catcher and a leader on the team.
“He’s as close as it gets to being a captain on this team. Everybody looks at Jakobi for leadership. His play, his heart, his toughness, leads the team in receiving and also leads the team in crack blocks — he’s that type of player,” said safety Devin McCourty. “I think we all, as competitors, in the moment feel bad. We feel we could have played better to win or whatever it is, but he’s not a guy I worry about how he rebounds.
“He’s going to lead this group next week into another tough game going against the Bengals. We’re all always talking but he’s a guy that’s a step away from being a captain on this team, a guy that we count on a lot for his leadership. I know he’ll rebound. I don’t think we need to turn this into a big picture Kobi thing. I think he’ll be ready to go, and he’ll be on the forefront what we do the next few weeks of the season.”