NFL Week 15 Takeaways: Bill Belichick Tenure Delivered Most Embarrassing Moment?

Plus: The Packers aren't dead yet


Dec 20, 2022

The New England Patriots have suffered worse losses than Week 15 against the Las Vegas Raiders. They had an undefeated season come up one game short of a Super Bowl, after all. And given the fact it was clear the Patriots weren’t going anywhere even if they did reach the postseason this time around, it’s difficult to point to Sunday’s defeat as the organization’s most devastating.

But it is fair to question if the unspeakable loss on the game’s final play was the most embarrassing of the Bill Belichick tenure. While we’re not trying to be too reactionary, it does feel like it.

The unimaginable display against the Raiders has been and will continue to serve as a punching bag for NFL fans and other organizations. The mind-blowing decision of Jakobi Meyers to throw a full-fledged pass to quarterback Mac Jones, who was some 60 yards away from the end zone no less, might be the single-biggest brain fart in football history. It will be associated with every lateral from now until the end of time, as it already was during “Monday Night Football.” And the lasting image of Mac Jones being thrown through the earth’s core while attempting to tackle Chandler Jones might never escape us.

The offensive play, snapped with three seconds left in a 24-all tie and New England at its own 44-yard line, didn’t just shatter the team’s playoff aspirations. It shattered the fanbase’s trust in the future Hall of Fame coach and the staff he was responsible for putting together. It confirmed the Patriots, long known for being the best-coached team in the league, now are poorly coached. The examples Sunday were plentiful.

Perhaps most notably, Belichick deflected when asked if players were told in that moment to go down after the Rhamondre Stevenson draw play as opposed to making ill-advised laterals. Belichick instead expressed how the team has talked about “situational football.” This isn’t to say the game-losing play strictly is on coaching either. Professional football players should know better in that situation. However, there were many other miscues when it came to situational football including a pivotal blocked punt, operational issues on a goal-to-go situation and a questionable defensive call on a critical fourth-and-10 for the Raiders offense. Belichick classified all as “mistakes” when asked about each situation after the game. Fifteen weeks into the season, however, operational mistakes can’t be overlooked.

That’s why now, at the very least, New England’s Week 15 loss serves as a microcosm for its underwhelming 2022 season. At the very worst, though, it serves as the most embarrassing moment in the post-Tom Brady era and arguably the most embarrassing of Belichick’s successful tenure with the Patriots.

Here are more takeaways from Week 15 in the NFL:

— What do we make of the Minnesota Vikings’ historic Week 15 comeback against the Indianapolis Colts? Well, besides the fact that nobody helps blow leads like Matt Ryan and Jeff Saturday should not be a head coach in Indianapolis next season. On one hand, kudos to the Vikings for coming back from a 33-0 halftime deficit and ultimately earning a 39-36 overtime win. On the other hand, Minnesota allowed the lowly Colts to outscore them by 33 points in the first half. A good team just doesn’t allow that, right? One way or the other, the Vikings have won the NFC North. But consistent underwhelming play should help whichever NFC wild-card team that draws Minnesota to enter at least somewhat confident.

— Speaking of the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers are still very much alive in the postseason hunt. According to FiveThirtyEight, the 6-8 Packers have a 68% chance to make the playoffs in they win their remaining three games — at Dolphins, vs. Vikings, vs. Lions — and that’s not including any external help. Green Bay’s chances improve to 86% should they win out and have the Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) beat the Seattle Seahawks, the San Francisco 49ers (-7) beat the Washington Commanders and the Vikings (-3.5) beat the Giants in Week 16. It’s no certainty, of course, but much crazier things have happened.

— The Washington Commanders and their fans have a legitimate gripe with officiating after “Sunday Night Football” against the New York Giants. It was another poor week for NFL officiating, but Washington getting screwed twice in crunch time must have been a brutal pill to swallow. The penalty on Terry McLaurin was questionable in it’s own right, and to follow that up with what appeared to be a clear pass interference penalty on fourth-and-goal was a tough look. Longtime NFL official and current NBC rules official Terry McAulay took the referees to task for what he confirmed was clearly a missed call. It was especially bad given the playoff implications. Washington currently has a 35% chance to make the postseason while the Giants’ odds soared to 87% after the win, per FiveThirtyEight.

— Tom Brady accounted for four turnovers Sunday as he helped the Cincinnati Bengals earn a comeback win for their sixth straight victory. It’s been a very bizarre season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they still have an 86% chance to make the postseason as long as they defeat the Carolina Panthers in Week 17.

Thumbnail photo via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images
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