LAS VEGAS — No, Rhamondre Stevenson and Jakobi Meyers shouldn’t have attempted boneheaded laterals on the final play of Sunday’s Patriots-Raiders game.
But Mac Jones would have offset their mistakes if he’d been able to bring down Chandler Jones.
New England’s quarterback chose to focus on that aspect of the absurd last-second touchdown after his team’s stunning 30-24 loss to Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium.
“I’ve got to tackle the guy,” Mac Jones said. “That’s on me. That’s my fault. I tackle him, then we play for overtime, so it’s on me. I’ve got to make that. Not good enough by me. It is what it is. I’ve got to tackle him and play for overtime, so that’s on me.”
Mac Jones was at a significant size disadvantage on the play, checking in at 6-foot-3, 217 pounds to Chandler Jones’ 6-5, 260. When the former Patriots linebacker intercepted Meyers’ backward pass with zeros on the clock, he felled the QB with a fierce stiff-arm and then raced 48 yards into the end zone. Tight end Hunter Henry and guard Mike Onwenu gave chase, but neither got within 5 yards of the Raiders defender.
Mac Jones also offered his support for Meyers, who’s been Jones’ unquestioned No. 1 wideout since the second-year signal-caller entered the NFL last season. Meyers and Stevenson both accepted responsibility for the ugly sequence, saying they should have gone down and played for overtime rather than trying to, in Meyers’ words, “be a hero.”
“I think Jakobi is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had,” Jones said. “He’s a fighter, and he does everything he can to try to help the team. Obviously, you have to ask Coach about (the play) and see what our plan was, but at the end of the day, the guy’s out there fighting and trying to compete to win the game. There’s a lot of things I could have done better in the game so we’re not even in that situation. I don’t play very well and we’re in that situation — it’s just terrible. It’s tough, but I love Jakobi and I love all the guys on our team. It’s not Jakobi’s fault.”
Before the missed tackle, Jones struggled through one of his worst passing performances of the season, completing just 13 of 31 passes for 112 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. His 41.9% completion rate and 3.6 yards-per-attempt average were the worst of his career, and his yardage total was the second-lowest of any game he started and finished, trailing only the three-pass wind game in Buffalo last season.
Sunday’s loss dropped the Patriots out of the AFC playoff picture. They sit at 7-7 with three difficult games remaining on their schedule. Next up: a Christmas Eve matchup with the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals next Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
“It stings, and it’s going to sting, but we’ve got more games to play,” Jones said. “We’ve got to turn the page and keep fighting and don’t quit. That’s the one thing we can’t do is quit. Just attack each day and come together as a team and do everything we can to become a better team.”