LAS VEGAS — Instant analysis from the Patriots’ 30-24 loss to the Raiders:
▪ Worst. Loss. Ever.
We have seen some bad Patriot meltdowns over the years. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking the loss to the Dolphins on the Miami Miracle, the playoff loss to the Bills last year in which the Patriots didn’t force a punt, and the Super Bowl loss to the Eagles with Malcolm Butler stuck on the bench.
But Sunday’s loss to the Raiders beats them all for pure, utter dysfunction. It’s one thing to allow a game-tying, 81-yard touchdown drive with 32 seconds left to send the game into overtime. It’s quite another to lose the game with no time left when trying to execute a lateral play. Jakobi Meyers’s throw across the field was beyond careless, and for the icing on the cake, Chandler Jones faceplanted Mac Jones into the turf before scampering 48 yards for the winning touchdown.
It was, unscientifically speaking, the single dumbest play by the Patriots in the past two decades. And it could cost them their season. The Patriots dropped to 7-7, and sit behind the 8-6 Chargers for the seventh and final playoff spot in the AFC.
The Patriots had played fairly well in the second half, and the game looked as if it could have been Jones’s first signature win, and first fourth-quarter comeback of the season. Instead, it will go down as the most ridiculous loss in Bill Belichick’s 23 years at Patriots coach.
▪ The Patriots’ offense certainly deserved to lose, scoring just one touchdown in 11 drives. The Patriots finished with just 318 total yards and finished 2 for 13 on third down.
And Jones is a mess. His final numbers were awful — 13 of 31 for 112 yards. He started the game 6 of 8 for 47 yards, and finished 7 of 23 for 65 yards — and 39 of them came on one pass to Meyers. This against a Raiders defense that entered the game 24th in points and 29th against the pass. Not exactly the Steel Curtain.
The Patriots still don’t seem to have much confidence in Jones, calling handoffs on third and long instead of trying to pick up the first down. Jones missed Meyers on a deep pass down the seams that would have been at least a 50-yard gain. And the offense was doing absolutely nothing all day until lightning struck in the fourth quarter on back-to-back plays, a 39-yard pass to Meyers and a 34-yard touchdown run by Rhamondre Stevenson.
The Patriots’ offense is even worse than it was in 2020 under Cam Newton. The Patriots need to make major changes next year with coaching, personnel, and maybe even at quarterback.
▪ One of the most disappointing aspects of the Patriots’ offense is that it’s 14 games into the season and it is still having basic issues with communication and getting guys on the same page. It wasn’t that loud inside Allegiant Stadium — half the fans were rooting for the Patriots anyway — and yet Hunter Henry couldn’t hear one play call, Jones took another delay-of-game penalty, and the punt team wasn’t ready when Joe Cardona snapped the ball, leading to a blocked punt for the Raiders.
These are issues that should have gotten resolved in training camp or September. Instead the Patriots are still making rookie mistakes.
▪ There were myriad self-inflicted mistakes, too, by the offense. There was the misguided decision not to run the ball on the goal line, costing the Patriots 4 points. A Jonnu Smith false start cost them a shot at fourth and goal from the 1. Jones missed Meyers running wide open down the seam, overthrowing him by a foot and costing the Patriots a 50-yard completion. And Kendrick Bourne had a bad drop, though it wouldn’t have resulted in a first down.
▪ Who is calling the goal line offense, Pete Carroll? A little advice to Matt Patricia: Run the ball! He outsmarted himself by calling two straight passes on second- and third-and-goal from the 1, both of which fell incomplete.
The Patriots went shotgun, four-wide and spread the Raiders’ defense out horizontally, and could have easily punched the ball in with Stevenson. Instead, the Patriots motioned Stevenson out of the backfield and gave Jones no one to hand off to. Or they took Stevenson out of the game and put in Marcus Jones, who is not a traditional running back.
Calling a timeout right before Meyers caught a touchdown didn’t help, either.
The Raiders had allowed a touchdown in 32 consecutive goal-to-go situations. Count on the Patriots to help them snap that streak.
▪ The Patriots hurt themselves with untimely penalties, but the Raiders really hurt themselves with penalties, getting called for 13 for 90 yards, including two delay-of-game penalties. The Raiders entered with the seventh-most penalty yards in the league, and lived up to their reputation.
▪ One bright spot for the Patriots — their running backs continue to be their best players on offense. We already know how great Stevenson is, and the Las Vegas native shook off an ankle injury to rush for 172 yards, including an impressive 26-yard run from near his own goal line. Rookie Kevin Harris only finished with 19 yards, but ran hard and carried several Raider defenders on his runs, and fellow rookie Pierre Strong had a nice 14-yard run.
The Patriots are going nowhere, of course, until the passing game makes dramatic improvement. But at least the run game is functional.
▪ Another banner day for the Patriots’ defense, making a talented Raider offense look decidedly average with only 308 total yards. The Patriots appeared to blitz Derek Carr a lot and get him off his timing, leading Carr to consistently roll out to his right and complete just 20 of 38 passes for 231 yards, though he did have three touchdown passes.
The Patriots gave up a tough touchdown at the end of the first half when Adrian Phillips slipped, leaving Darren Waller wide open for a 25-yard score. But the defense made up for it in the third quarter with a touchdown from Kyle Dugger.
▪ Rookie Marcus Jones made the play of the day in the first quarter. Davante Adams was open on a bomb, but Jones showcased his world-class speed in catching up to Adams, and saved a touchdown with a diving pass breakup.
And Dugger sure did his homework, anticipating a quick bubble screen to Adams and returning it 16 yards for a pick-6. It was the Patriots’ sixth non-offensive touchdown of the season, the most in the NFL, and the second for Dugger. The game would have been a blowout if not for the Patriots’ defense having another big game.
- Tara Sullivan: The shock of this loss for the Patriots is not going anywhere anytime soon
- Chad Finn: Patriots loss to Raiders was unfathomable, even as it was happening before our stunned eyes
- Patriots take a gamble on the final play — and lose everything in Las Vegas
- Inside the final play: Patriots’ Jakobi Meyers said he was just trying to improvise. It didn’t work.
- Why Raiders WR Keelan Cole’s late TD catch against the Patriots wasn’t overturned
- The interception, the stiff-arm, the celebration: Inside the biggest moment of Chandler Jones’s career
Ben Volin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.