LAS VEGAS — New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers stood in a stunned locker room following the team’s 30-24 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium, making no excuses for his role in the shocking play that ended the game with no time left.
Meyers’ careless lateral was caught by Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones, and returned 48 yards for a touchdown as Jones steamrolled quarterback Mac Jones — the last line of defense — en route to the end zone.
“Just trying to do too much, Trying to be a hero, I guess,” Meyers said. “I thought I saw Mac open. I didn’t see Chandler Jones at the time. I thought [Mac] was open and tried to get it to him, and let him try to make a play with it. But the score was tied, so I should have went down.”
Why the Patriots were lateraling at all was a surprise, as players said that wasn’t what was supposed to happen.
The Patriots had the ball at their 45-yard line, with three seconds left, and the score tied at 24. Meyers said the instructions in the huddle were straight-forward: “Just run the ball, go down.”
That would have sent the game to overtime.
But when running back Rhamondre Stevenson picked up 23 yards on a draw play, he lateraled back to Meyers at around the Raiders’ 40-yard line. That was the catalyst for Meyers’ own mistake, a lateral more than 10 yards behind him.
“It’s not his fault,” Meyers said of Stevenson. “He gave me the ball because he trusted me. I have to be smarter with it.”
Stevenson took accountability, saying: “The coaches gave us a play just to kind of run the time out, just get down. I feel like I should have did just that. The play call is just a draw play and nothing more, nothing less than that. I’m supposed to know the situation, I’m supposed to know how much time is on the clock. Critical situations. I failed to do that today.”
When Chandler Jones gathered in the lateral, he had just one player to beat — Mac Jones. The Patriots quarterback felt he cost the Patriots the game by not making the tackle.
“I got to tackle the guy. It’s on me and it’s my fault. If I tackle him, we play for overtime. Not good enough by me,” he said.
Coach Bill Belichick said the Patriots made a “mistake” on the play, and that a Hail Mary wasn’t an option because he didn’t think they could reach the end zone.
“We’ve talked about situational football. We talk about it every week. Obviously, we have to do a better job,” he said.
The Patriots had endured similar heartbreak in Week 14 of the 2018 season, losing to the Dolphins on a lateral play on special teams at the end of regulation.
Specific to a defensive touchdown, Sunday marked just the second go-ahead defensive touchdown on the final play of regulation in NFL history. The other was by the Patriots defense in Week 2 of the 1960 season — a 52-yard fumble return by defensive back Chuck Shonta against the New York Titans (who eventually became the Jets). That was the first win in Patriots history.
Patriots players say laterals were improvised, ‘have to be smarter’