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Chad Finn | Unconventional Review

Patriots loss to Raiders was unfathomable, even as it was happening before our stunned eyes

Patriots center David Andrews appeared perplexed as the final, fateful play unfolded.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Welcome to the Unconventional Review, an instant reaction to standouts, stats, and story lines from the Patriots’ most recent game . . .

Not enough time has passed. Proper perspective just is not possible. To paraphrase Jack Buck in a negative context, we cannot believe what we just saw.

So, no, I can’t tell you if the final play of the Patriots’ crushing 30-24 loss to Josh McDaniels’s Raiders Sunday was the single stupidest play in NFL history. The Buttfumble still exists, and the Colts Catastrophe (that weird formation against the Patriots in 2015), and the Miracle at the Meadowlands, and Leon Lett’s gaffe in the Super Bowl, and other eternal blunders.


But I can tell you this: Jakobi Meyers’s heaved backward pass on the final play of the game, which was snagged by Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones and returned for the winning touchdown, is the single stupidest play in Patriots history.

It wasn’t merely ill advised. It was unfathomable even as it was happening before our stunned eyes. That ball seemed to be in the air for 25 minutes before Jones plucked it from the sky, buried would-be tackler Mac Jones in the sod, and took it 48 yards for the score.

The Patriots lost a game in regulation that they led by a touchdown with less than a minute left. And now their playoff hopes are significantly damaged by a loss that is going to live on in NFL Films blooper reels forever.

Some further thoughts, upon immediate review . . .

Three players who were worth watching

Players suggested in the Unconventional Preview: Josh Jacobs, Josh Uche, Maxx Crosby.

Rhamondre Stevenson: I’m willing to excuse his worst supporting actor role in the Great Lateral Disaster of 2022, because what Stevenson delivered Sunday for the first 59 minutes and 57 seconds fell somewhere between admirable and inspirational. Stevenson, who suffered an ankle injury last week against the Cardinals, was questionable coming into the game, and there was much suspense in the hours beforehand regarding if he would even be active. Stevenson didn’t get his first touch until 4 minutes 10 seconds of the first half, a 9-yard run. At halftime, he had just five carries for 37 yards. It did not look like he would be much of a factor. Instead, he was the factor in the second half, at least right up until the ugly end. Stevenson ran for 26 yards on the first play after halftime, en route to final totals of 19 carries, 172 yards — 135 after the break — and one touchdown, a 34-yard sprint with 3:43 remaining (massive blocks by Conor McDermott and Cole Strange sprung him loose) to put the Patriots up, 24-17. Just a sensational performance that will probably be lost in the absurdity of the ending.


Rhamondre Stevenson rumbled for 172 yards on 19 carriesJim Davis/Globe Staff

Keelan Cole: Nope, I don’t think his toe touched down inbounds on his tying 30-yard touchdown reception with 32 seconds remaining. I also don’t think the various replay angles had the proof necessary to overturn the call on the field. A lousy break all around for the Patriots. Cole entered the game with just seven catches for 86 yards this season. Against the Patriots, he tied his season-high with two catches, having also hauled in a 20-yarder in the first half. The Patriots defense did fine work limiting Raiders star receiver Davante Adams to four catches for 28 yards, but Cole and tight end Mack Hollins (four receptions for 40 yards, one touchdown, two catches on the late tying drive) did a nice job picking up the slack.


Kyle Dugger: The third-year safety gave the Patriots hope when their offense was plodding along hopelessly. With the Raiders leading, 17-3, with just more than 12 minutes remaining in the third quarter and facing a second and 6 at their 17-yard-line, Dugger made a perfect read, floored his accelerator, and jumped a screen pass intended for Adams. Dugger picked it off after a brief bobble, and returned it 13 yards for a touchdown. It was the kind of play the Patriots desperately needed from their defense at that particular moment if they were to get back into the game. Dugger also made a more subtle but important play on the Raiders’ first possession of the game, blitzing Carr on third and 15 at the Patriots’ 32 and forcing him to throw the ball away. The Raiders had to settle for a 49-yard field goal by Daniel Carlson.

Grievance of the game

I’m probably in the rapidly dwindling minority here, but I remain OK with Mac Jones’s outbursts of temper on the field. It’s clear that Matt Patricia and the offensive coaches often fail to get the plays in on time, and I’m not kidding when I say the offense might be better off with Jones calling the plays. That said, he played a terrible game. He went 6 of 8 for 47 yards in the first quarter, but — and this is stunning — 7 of 23 for 65 yards over the final three quarters, with several throws that were wild high. That is just not acceptable.


Mac Jones (right) and Matt Patricia did not seem to be on the same page once again.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Three notes scribbled in the margins

Predicted final score: Raiders 27, Patriots 23

Final score: Raiders 30, Patriots 24

Adams wasn’t the only Raiders offensive star that the Patriots slowed down. Josh Jacobs had 14 carries for 70 rushing yards at halftime, but the Patriots defense held him to 23 yards on eight carries in the second half . . . Does anyone know Jonathan Vilma played with Drew Brees in New Orleans? I know the former linebacker and current Fox color analyst mentioned it twice in the first half, but I really could have used a third time to hammer it home. This was my least-favorite broadcast team of the season . . . The Raiders have now given away a double-digit halftime lead five times this season, having held a 17-3 lead at the break in this one. Something tells me they’re OK with how it all played out.

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Chad Finn can be reached at chad.finn@globe.com. Follow him @GlobeChadFinn.