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Instant analysis from Patriots’ 21-17 loss to Raiders

Observations from Sunday’s finality at Allegiant Stadium.

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The familiar faces at Allegiant Stadium sent the visitors on their way.

The New England Patriots fell to the Las Vegas Raiders by a score of 21-17 on Sunday, with a safety bringing a sense of finality in October.

Here’s a glance back as head coach Bill Belichick’s roster heads home at 1-5 on the season.

Jones unable to lengthen short leash

Mac Jones remained the starting quarterback in Las Vegas. And with a short leash after back-to-back benchings spanned six turnovers and three touchdown returns.

The incumbent completed 24-of-33 passes for 200 yards and one interception on Sunday. His first throw would be dropped in a quarter that netted two lost yards and two punts amid penalties. New England’s initial first down would not come until a screen was cut short by a holding penalty. And just as glimpses were being strung together, tight end Hunter Henry was overthrown on a scrambling, jumping lob downfield before intermission. Raiders safety Tre’von Moehrig made the most of it.

A 10-play, 75-yard drive was how the second half got underway for an offense that had gone 39 drives and 12 quarters without a touchdown. The Patriots found themselves back at the goal line late in the fourth quarter, too. A false start and an illegal shift changed that. A flag for roughing the passer surfaced against Maxx Crosby in a 19-17 game. The Raiders Pro Bowler responded on the final series by hitting home for a safety on third-and-15 with 1:52 left to tick.

With motion, Elliott’s direct snap ends touchdown drought

Over emergency quarterback Bailey Zappe, undrafted rookie Malik Cunningham went from the practice squad to the active roster to the backup spot for New England.

The Louisville product, who split his preseason under center and out wide, did not see reps at the former in pregame warm-ups. But his first career snap came there on a handoff. The debut then saw No. 16 go in motion on a direct snap.

Ezekiel Elliott plunged it in from three yards out for his first score as a Patriot. The veteran running back finished the game with 49 scrimmage yards. Starter Rhamondre Stevenson, who was briefly sidelined due to head and ankle injuries, returned with a rushing touchdown of his own. Only it took 17 plays and 9:30 of game clock.

Garoppolo finds Meyers for TD before Hoyer steps in

No defense around the NFL entered Sunday with fewer turnovers than New England’s two. With 3:34 left in the first quarter, that tally reached three down in the red zone. A decleating hit by safety Jabrill Peppers became an interception for linebacker Jahlani Tavai on a pass intended for Davante Adams.

But Jimmy Garoppolo, who was announced as doubtful at halftime due to a back injury that sent him to the hospital for further evaluation, finished 14-of-22 passing for 162 yards with one touchdown. The Raiders quarterback did so while finding another old friend out wide.

Jakobi Meyers caught five passes for 61 yards and his Las Vegas-leading fourth touchdown versus the Patriots. It arrived on a leaping grab in the back of the end zone from 12 yards out with nickelback Myles Bryant the nearest defender. With Brian Hoyer stepping in at QB for the second half, the March signing was targeted on seven occasions in all. His perennial All-Pro teammate at receiver totaled two catches for 29 yards through a handful of looks. The Patriots started trade acquisition J.C. Jackson across from Jonathan Jones in man coverage at cornerback.

As Thornton returns, Bourne totals season bests

Wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Demario Douglas began and ended the week in the NFL’s concussion protocol for the Patriots. In turn, the organization activated Tyquan Thornton from injured reserve on the eve of the 4:05 p.m. ET kickoff.

The No. 50 overall pick in last year’s draft would catch one pass for six yards in his return to the lineup. He started in “11” personnel on Sunday.

Kendrick Bourne broke loose for 36 yards in the second quarter on a possession that ended in a field goal and ended a run of 79 unanswered points. His Sunday included a season-high 10 receptions for 89 yards while fellow starter DeVante Parker had a drop deep down the left sideline with 1:59 left.

Offensive line’s fifth starting five logs four penalties

New England ruled out Cole Strange and Riley Reiff on the final injury report due to knee issues. Another combination followed with Mike Onwenu questionable due to an ankle issue. It included a pair of 2023 draft choices on the interior.

Trent Brown at left tackle, Atonio Mafi at left guard, David Andrews at center, Sidy Sow at right guard and Vederian Lowe at right tackle marked the season’s fifth starting five. A false start and an illegible man downfield were called against the bookends on consecutive snaps from there. Added were an additional two flags.

Four sacks would be allowed by game’s end. Getting the first was Super Bowl LIII champion Adam Butler, who sent the punt unit on with a twist.

In sixth career game, Mayer multiplies previous production

Raiders rookie tight end Michael Meyer had three receptions on the fall. The consensus All-American from Notre Dame matched that total on Sunday’s initial drive, logging the initial three completions of the game for 35 yards. Those set up the first of four field goals by kicker Daniel Carlson.

He finished with a team-high 75 yards across five catches.

A pickup of 18 on a mesh concept against defensive back Jalen Mills was among them. So was a long of 32 down the left sideline.

New England’s edges thin further

The Patriots placed Matthew Judon on injured reserve amid Saturday’s moves. But by Sunday, the rookie on the field in his absence also exited. Opening in the base defense, Keion White had gotten the start across from Anfernee Jennings at outside linebacker. The No. 46 overall pick went to the blue medical tent after a Raiders run went for no gain just five minutes in. He was downgraded to out with a head injury as the second quarter began.

Josh Uche, who had been limited in practice with a knee injury, was later announced as questionable to return with a foot injury.

The front finished with matchup without a sack. But running back Josh Jacobs averaged 3.1 yards per carry on the ground. With 2:35 remaining, the reigning NFL rushing leader was stopped for a loss on third down by defensive tackle Christian Barmore. No points would come of New England’s opportunity. Two points would for Las Vegas.