As New England was set to punt back to Vegas with just 35 seconds remaining in the half, a miscommunication resulted in the Raiders blocking the punt — setting their offense up at the New England 20-yard line.
“Just some communication that starts with me on the sideline,” Patriots special teams coordinator Cam Achord explained in a videoconference Tuesday. “In those situations, making sure we’re alert to the play clock or anything that's going on. We just got to do a better job — starting with me — communicating the situation that are at hand and get it corrected moving forward.”
On the play, several Patriots players were not set as long snapper Joe Cardona snapped the ball back to punter Michael Palardy. The communication seemed to resolve around the play clock, as safety Jabrill Peppers can be seen asking the officials to pump the play clock back to 25 seconds.
Looked like the blocked punt was the result of a miscommunication with the play clock. You can see Jabrill Peppers signal to pump the clock up and point up when they do so. Just doesn't get communicated throughout the punt team. #Patriots pic.twitter.com/PdIc51fR8d— Brian Hines (@iambrianhines) December 19, 2022
“It’s something we talked about but you never know for sure if the officials are going to bump the clock or not,” Achord said. “You know they sometimes bump them in game sometimes they don’t. We just got to continue to communicate on the sideline and be alert for those situations when they come up.”
While the officials did reset the clock, Peppers and Adrian Phillips were ready to let the clock continue to tick to run out the majority of the first half. However, the message was not relayed back to Cardona and he snapped the ball as he believed the play clock was close to expiring.
Achord explained the snapper goes off his queue.
“It all depends on what I've called actually on the sideline, what we’re doing from the tempo aspect of it,” he said. “You know, so there’s several different situations where maybe we’re going out there and first sound we’re snapping the ball, maybe there’s no communication at all.
“So each situation is going to be different depending on the game and where we are, how we’re going to handle those situations.”
A pair of Derek Carr completions later — split up by a pair of Patriots defensive penalties — and the Raiders found the end zone with just four seconds remaining in the half. Ultimately, continued poor situational football gifted Las Vegas seven points, which proved costly down the stretch.