Column: Patriots’ blunder showed perils of trying to do much

Football madness merged with football slapstick Sunday in Las Vegas, creating a wacky victory for the Raiders, a head-shaking defeat for the Patriots and an essential teaching tape for, well, all humans, on the perils of trying to do too much.

What happened is that, with the game clock expired, Patriots receiver Jakobi Meyers lost his mind and chucked a live football backward for no good reason, creating a Raiders touchdown and Raiders victory, 30-24.

The goofy final play — let’s call it the Desert Mirage — was no less surreal than the infamous Holy Roller in San Diego that still causes older Chargers fans to fume.

(This time the Chargers benefited from a stunning Raiders victory because the Patriots fell past them in the playoff race.)

With the score 24-24, the Patriots had the ball at their 48 but, lacking a timeout with just three seconds left, they opted against a pass and handed the ball off for an inside run.

Overtime? Amazingly, no.

The game clock expired as Rhamondre Stevenson burst though the line and upfield, but the running back advanced further by breaking two tackles as he veered right.

With Meyers trailing him and Raiders defenders converging, Stevenson flipped his teammate the ball, a bad decision.

Meyers, upon catching the ball at the 32, inexplicably made a sharp U-turn.

Even more inexplicably, still running toward his own end zone, the fourth-year receiver lofted the ball backward from the 40 and toward midfield near two guys named Jones.

Raiders edge rusher Chandler Jones — long, strong, quick and fast — made the catch near Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, who’s slow, weak and stiff in comparison. No other Patriots players loomed.

Uh-oh.

Chandler Jones extended a long arm. Down went Mac Jones near the Raiders midfield logo.

Chandler Jones completed the 48-yard run. The Raiders had won. Was there any outcome as improbable Sunday at Vegas’ blackjack and poker tables?

Despite the gift, the Raiders (6-8) remain a long shot to make it two consecutive playoff appearances. Their offense was sloppy for most of the second half. For most of the game, their run defense came up short.

Derek Carr threw an impressive touchdown pass to tie the game at 24, but did little else to quell speculation that the Raiders and he will divorce this offseason.

The Patriots (7-7) got another lukewarm, at best, performance from Jones, their second-year quarterback who was well supported by a line that was the game’s best unit.

So it won’t be surprising if both teams are searching for a quarterback this offseason. And the next time the Patriots have a chance to secure overtime, look for them to make certain they do it.

How long coach Bill Belichick, 70, will continue to lead the Patriots isn’t a forecast worth attempting, but his team’s stunning blunders at game’s end brought to mind many of the boneheaded plays by Patriots opponents back when the Belichick’s program ruled the NFL.


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