LAS VEGAS — Jakobi Meyers’ inexplicable, game-losing lateral will get much of the attention after the Patriots’ disastrous loss to the Raiders on Sunday. But Meyers never would’ve been in a position to make that play had it not been for Rhamondre Stevenson’s equally ill-advised lateral.
That’s the point Stevenson wanted to make during his postgame news conference.
Stevenson, who otherwise was sensational in Las Vegas, ran 23 yards on the final play of the fourth quarter, seemingly with the intention of running out the clock and sending the game to overtime. But, at the last second, the sophomore back lateraled to Meyers, who attempted a cross-field backward pass that was picked off by Chandler Jones and returned for a game-ending touchdown. The 30-24 loss dropped New England out of the AFC playoff picture with three games left in the regular season.
After the game, Stevenson revealed that he wasn’t told to lateral the ball.
“The coaches gave us a play just to kinda run the time out, just get down,” Stevenson said. “There was only a couple seconds left. So, I feel like I should’ve just did just that and got down.”
Stevenson, who ran for 172 yards, added: “The play call was just a draw play, nothing more, nothing less than that. I’m supposed to know the situation. I’m supposed to know how much time’s on the clock and critical situations. And I failed to do that today, so it is what it is.”
Stevenson then was asked about Meyers, who was despondent after the game while saying he was just trying to be a “hero” and make a big play.
“The play started off with me with the ball,” Stevenson said. “If I didn’t pitch it back to him, Jakobi wouldn’t have had the chance to do that. So, I take full responsibility for that, for the play. I just gotta know the situation. Just gotta know what’s going on in the game.”
The Patriots now will look to regroup ahead of a must-win home game against the Cincinnati Bengals next Saturday. New England, now 7-7, is guaranteed a playoff spot if it wins out, but that feels like a far-fetched scenario given games against the Bengals, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills.