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Inside the final play: Patriots’ Jakobi Meyers said he was just trying to improvise. It turned into a disaster.

Jakobi Meyers tried to make a play, but his backward pass was intercepted and returned for a game-ending TD.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

LAS VEGAS — A dejected Jakobi Meyers stood at his stall inside the visiting locker room at Allegiant Stadium, his eyes red and swollen. Holding back tears, the 26-year-old Patriots wide receiver fought to maintain his composure while answering questions about what had just happened on the field moments earlier.

“I was trying to be a hero, I guess,” he said.

On the final play of Sunday’s game against the Raiders, with the score tied at 24 and the ball on New England’s 45-yard line, the Patriots handed the ball to running back Rhamondre Stevenson on a draw play. As the clock ticked to zero, Stevenson gained considerable yardage into Las Vegas territory, but, before getting tackled, decided to pitch the ball to Meyers to keep the play alive.


Meyers then ran about 10 yards in the opposite direction before heaving the ball across the field. Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones intercepted the throw, stiff-armed quarterback Mac Jones — the only obstacle between him and the end zone — and ran 48 yards for the walkoff touchdown. Game over. Raiders win.

“I should have just went down,” Meyers said.

Players stayed mum on the instructions for that final sequence. Was the desperation throw part of the initial play call? According to Meyers, he improvised, hoping to give his team an opportunity to make another play.

“I promise you, that was just me trying to make a play,” Meyers said. “I didn’t see the dude back there. I was trying to throw the ball. I was just doing too much, you know what I’m saying.”

A wonderful game for Rhamondre Stevenson, who rushed for 172 yards and this 34-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, was significantly soured by the final sequence.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Stevenson echoed Meyers, noting he should have recognized the situation at hand. With no time on the clock and the score tied, he admitted he should have just gotten tackled.

“The coaches gave us a play just to run the time out,” Stevenson said. “There were only a couple of seconds on the clock. I feel like I should have done just that and got down.”


The wild touchdown ended the game in regulation, bringing New England’s comeback bid to a screeching halt. The Patriots had trailed up until the fourth quarter, when they took a 24-17 lead with just four minutes to go.

It looked as though the Patriots defense was on track for another superb performance, forcing the Raiders to go three and out with 3:39 left in the game. The Patriots, however, then went three and out, giving the Raiders another chance to tie it. They did, moving the ball 81 yards in nine plays to score on a controversial touchdown by wide receiver Keelan Cole.

With the score even and 32 seconds remaining, the game seemed destined for overtime. The Patriots had used both of their remaining timeouts and moved the ball 20 yards. They were out of field goal range. Even the final play call indicated the Patriots were playing for overtime.

No Hail Mary. Just a handoff.

Meyers and Stevenson assumed full responsibility for the debacle that ensued. Their teammates, though, stressed all were responsible for the final result.

“We just have to finish better,” said Mac Jones. “It falls on all of us. You just have to do better. It is what it is. Tough way to go out, but we have to just watch the tape and get better.”


Added center David Andrews, “It’s not just one play. It’s never one play in a game. There’s all three phases we got something to work on.”

Jones shouldered some of the blame, too, saying he should have tackled Chandler Jones. Mac Jones was the lone Patriot to get his hands on the Raiders defensive end.

“I have to tackle the guy,” he said. “It’s on me. That’s my fault. If I tackle him, then we play for overtime. It’s on me. Got to make that. Not good enough by me.”

The Raiders, on the brink of blowing their fifth double-digit halftime lead of the season, were certainly pleased with how the game concluded.

“I think I’m happiest for the group in our locker room,” coach Josh McDaniels said. “The ball certainly bounced a couple funny ways for us this year. I think our team was really thrilled to have it kind of bounce our way today. A crazy ending, obviously.”

Added quarterback Derek Carr, “It was an unbelievable play. I’m glad we had one go our way.”

The Patriots fell to 7-7 and sit outside of the AFC’s playoff picture. They have three games remaining against Cincinnati, Miami, and Buffalo.

So, what’s the message to the team?

“Just stick together,” Andrews said. “Keep playing for each other. And keep working. That’s the biggest thing right now. You can lay down and let it go to waste, or you can come in, keep your head high, and go back to work.”


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Nicole Yang can be reached at nicole.yang@globe.com.Follow her @nicolecyang.