There were no shortage of bad plays by the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon against the Las Vegas Raiders, but one seems to have been overshadowed by the rest.
Just before halftime of New England’s stunning loss to Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium, seeds were planted for the tomfoolery-filled second half that fans were gifted. With 36 seconds remaining before halftime, the Patriots had a mental blunder that led to Michael Palardy’s punt being blocked. This gave the Raiders prime field position to score a quick touchdown and push their lead to 17-3 heading into the locker room.
Obviously, Keelan Cole’s (near?) touchdown grab and Jakobi Meyers’ mind-numbing lateral have grabbed all of the headlines, but the punt block was yet another instance of the Patriots suffering a mental lapse. At least according to special teams coordinator Cameron Achord.
“Just some communication that starts with me on the sideline,” Achord said Tuesday, per team-provided video. “In those situations, making sure we’re alert to the play clock or anything that’s going on. We just got to do a better job — starting with me — communicating the situation that are at hand and get it corrected moving forward.”
The entire scenario was explained after the game by Patriots captain Matthew Slater. Essentially, the Patriots snapped the ball thinking the play clock would run out, but the referees had given them extra time. Some players on the field recognized that, others did not. So that raised the question, who signals for the snap?
“It all depends on what I’ve called actually on the sideline, what we’re doing from the tempo aspect of it,” Achord said. “You know, so there’s several different situations where maybe we’re going out there and first sound we’re snapping the ball, maybe there’s no communication at all.
“So each situation is going to be different depending on the game and where we are, how we’re going to handle those situations.”
That isn’t exactly a concrete answer, but gives insight into another example of the Patriots coaching staff being shouldered with the blame of a costly mistake in a season that has been full of them.