JuJu Smith-Schuster gave the Patriots new life this past Sunday, but less than a minute later, the veteran wide receiver took it away.

With New England trailing Washington by three points late in the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium, Smith-Schuster extended a gotta-have-it drive with an impressive six-yard snag at the Commanders’ 43-yard line. Mac Jones homed in on Smith-Schuster again two plays later, but the on-target pass bounced through the wideout’s hands and into the arms of Jartavius Martin. The interception sealed a 20-17 win for the visitors and dropped the Patriots to 2-7 on the season.

Smith-Schuster shouldered the blame for the miscue after the game, as he should have. But as Jones explained Monday on WEEI, the seventh-year pro was far from a complete liability on the Patriots’ final Week 9 possession.

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“We’re good,” Jones said on “Jones & Mego,” as transcribed by Boston.com. “I told him if you don’t make the play before that one, then we’re not there. It’s football. It’s a bang-bang play. It’s always like that in the NFL, right? It goes one way or the other. You make the play and maybe you go into overtime. And if you don’t, you don’t.

“It is what it is. I can do things better throughout the game to not even be in that position. Everyone wants to put one thing on one player, but we’re all in this together. That’s how we approach it.”

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Helping the Patriots stage a game-tying or even game-winning drive would have been a godsend for Smith-Schuster, who has been the subject of intense criticism all season long. Instead, the back-breaking mistake only amplifies New England’s bizarre decision to go all-in on Smith-Schuster and let Jakobi Meyers walk this past offseason.

Smith-Schuster still has nine games to make the investment look less lousy, but at this point, it might be too little, too late.

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Featured image via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images