The Patriots had a golden opportunity to send Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium to overtime, but one of their top 2023 draft picks didn’t come through.

New England trailed the New York Giants 10-7 with six seconds left in the fourth quarter when it sent out Chad Ryland to attempt a 35-yard field goal. The weather conditions in the Meadowlands were less than ideal, but it still was a very makeable kick for the rookie fourth-rounder.

But Ryland pushed it left, which sealed a victory for the G-Men and handed the Patriots their fourth straight loss. After the game, NBC Sports’ Peter King couldn’t help but think about how Bill Belichick mismanaged New England’s kicker position heading into the season.

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“The absurdity of Belichick letting Nick Folk walk for a rookie kicker cost the Patriots dearly when Chad Ryland yanked a chip-shot 35-yard field goal with three seconds left that would have sent Sunday’s game to overtime,” King wrote in his latest Football Morning in America column. “Instead, the Giants won a game the Patriots lost about 65 different ways, 10-7. The simple numbers tell the story of the bad decision by Belichick to send Folk to Tennessee. In Folk’s last three seasons in New England, he missed five of 87 field goals inside 50 yards. In Ryland’s first season in New England, he’s missed four of 15 inside 50 yards.”

The jury still is out on Ryland as an NFL kicker and it’s probably too early to call him a bust. That said, the Patriots definitely could have used the 112th overall pick this past spring on a far more pressing need, as Folk was one of the few bright spots for New England across its first three post-Tom Brady seasons.

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Ryland’s whiff in East Rutherford might end up being viewed as a blessing by the Patriots and their fans, though. By dropping to 2-9, New England improved its chances of earning a top pick in the 2024 draft.

Featured image via Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports Images