LAS VEGAS — The Patriots acquired (and extended) DeVante Parker so he could provide their offense with a productive downfield threat. Someone who can come down with 50-50 balls and pick up big yardage.

Occasionally, Parker delivers. But too often the veteran receiver does what he did Sunday in a huge spot: watch the ball bounce off his hands.

Trailing by two at his own 9-yard line with 1:59 left, Mac Jones fired a beautiful deep ball on second-and-11 for Parker, who dropped the pass. A completion would’ve given New England the ball at about the Raiders’ 45-yard line, within striking distance of a game-winning field goal. It could’ve been a season-saving victory, and arguably the biggest win of Jones’ career, when you consider all the factors at play.

Instead, the Patriots offensive line cratered, Jones took a safety on third down and New England lost 21-17. Bill Belichick’s team now is 1-5 for the first time since 1995.

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Parker, who finished with one catch on three targets for 7 yards, was asked about the play during a postgame scrum in the Patriots locker room. A tense back-and-forth saw the 30-year-old largely avoid any accountability.

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Here’s a full transcript:

Reporter: “DeVante, what happened on that deep ball on the last drive? It looked like you got behind the coverage.”

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Parker: “I don’t know. What’d you see?”

Reporter: “It looked like you got behind the coverage and the ball was there.”

Parker: “Yeah, I guess that’s just what happened. I was behind the coverage. Next?”

Reporter: “Did you get your fingers on the ball?”

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Parker: “Probably hit my fingertips, I think. But I didn’t get a full grasp of it.”

Reporter: “Do you feel like that’s a ball you can catch?”

Parker: “I think so, I mean, fingertips, so I don’t know. But.”

And here’s a video:

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It’s hard not to compare Parker’s reaction to the way Jakobi Meyers handled questions last year about his infamous failed lateral at Allegiant Stadium. One player, who was allowed to leave in free agency, owned up to his mistake, while the other, who was given more money, took no responsibility.

Jones surely was upset about the play. But the third-year quarterback backed Parker during a postgame news conference.

“DP’s a great deep-ball threat,” Jones said. “We kind of agreed that we wanted that route. Just tough, tough play. If it goes one way we might go down there and win. If it goes the other way, we didn’t. It’s just tough. It’s football.

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“But at the end of the day I have a lot of trust in the receivers and I felt like their energy this week was really good, and they’ve been very confident that they can get open and catch the ball and they’ve shown that at times for sure.”

What was Bill Belichick’s take?

“Yeah, I was on the other side of the field,” he said.

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Got it. Thanks, Bill.

In all likelihood, the Patriots’ season now is over. A catch from Parker and a dramatic win probably only would’ve delayed the inevitable, but you never know. Maybe it would’ve sparked a resurgence.

In any case, the Patriots will host the Buffalo Bills next Sunday as they look to avoid dropping to 1-6.

Featured image via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images