The Worst Play in NFL history.
I mean, we can list a few others that might qualify in this realm. The Jets (Buttfumble), Colts (fake punt), Vikings (Jim Marshall‘s wrong way run) – even the Raiders (remember the Immaculate Reception by the Steelers?) – might recall having misfortune thrust upon them at a most inopportune moment.
But Jakobi Meyers‘ ill-fated throwback to Mac Jones on an attempted lateral after the final seconds of the clock Sunday had ticked away in Las Vegas will likely go down as one of the most memorable of ’em all.
Because it happened TO the New England Patriots. The Bill Belichick “Do Your Job” Patriots. The dynastic “don’t make a mistake” Patriots. The “we don’t beat ourselves” Patriots.
Except this was a beauty. And it shouldn’t come as such a surprise to you, or anyone who has watched this team this season, that it happened.
The “Sin City Miracle” was simply a microcosm of the kind of play that has plagued New England from September to this point. It’s largely why the Patriots are 7-7 and hanging onto postseason chances like a dog hangs onto a bone.
This is a team that hasn’t valued possession of the ball until recently, when they finally turned the corner on turnover ratio. This is a team that has piled up more penalty yardage this season than any other during Belichick’s reign as coaching emperor, even if the Raiders outdumbed the Patriots in this regard Sunday.
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Which only makes the “Sin City Miracle” even more incredible. As shocking as the play was, the Patriots simply could have taken a knee to go into overtime. The decision to try and make something happen on the lateral was stunning – but really shouldn’t be surprising when you consider the number of mistakes made through the season.
“I was just trying to do too much, trying to be a hero, I guess,” was Jakobi Meyers’ explanation. “I didn’t see the dude back there, trying to throw the ball. Like I said, I was just doing too much. I should have just went down with the ball.”
Another mental mistake, one that cost this team a game they needed to win.
And this was after one of the more egregious officiating errors in recent memory, with video still-frames showing Keelan Cole‘s left foot clearly touching out of bounds in the end zone on his reception from Derek Carr with 32 seconds remaining.
Don’t know what New York was seeing with that one. They simply manufactured something that wasn’t there, regardless of what the rules might say. NFL VP of Officiating Walt Anderson:
“We looked at every available angle and it was not clear and obvious that the foot was on the white. It was very tight, very close. There was no shot that we could see – we even enhanced and blew up the views that we had. There was nothing that was clear and obvious that his foot was touching the white.”
Walt, what were YOU looking at? When does common sense enter the decision-making process? Looked pretty obvious to the rest of the free world.
Revenge for the “tuck rule” game? Hardly. But that was a helluva last-half-minute Sunday. A two-fisted punch right to the chops.
The Patriots are a team that ranks 25th overall in DVOA (by Football Outsiders) and has been among the worst in the NFL in converting Red Zone touchdown scoring chances. They also appear to have a major disconnect between the huddle and the sideline through needless timeouts and penalties called.
It is, in a word, dysfunctional. Which is precisely what we saw within the “Sin City Miracle.”
Complete and utter dysfunction. It is how, ultimately, this Patriots’ team and season will be remembered…barring a postseason miracle of some kind.
But that one play? Qualifies as a ‘wow’ for certain. And it will definitely be high on the list of “worst ever” in NFL history.
Because it happened TO New England.
The first was last
The Patriots reportedly had a good week of practice in Arizona, staying out west following their Monday night win against the Cardinals.
But they sure didn’t show that during the first half against the Raiders Sunday. From appearances, it looked as if the Patriots hardly practiced at all.
- 111 total net yards, 56 passing yards
- Five penalties
- Oh-fer in the red zone
- A blocked punt on special teams, leading to a Raiders’ touchdown and a 17-3 halftime deficit.
- Allowing three scores on five first-half possession by Vegas.
Pretty much covers the set up to an inexplicable finish. The slow starts have become commonplace, forcing the Patriots to adjust and come from behind. Which they don’t do very well.
But what about…?
It’s a shame it won’t all be remembered, thanks to the nature of the finish. But in reality, the Raiders played dumber than did New England until the very end.
13 penalties for 90 yards. A pick-six from the arm of Derek Carr into the waiting, anticipating hands of the Patriots’ Kyle Dugger for a walk-in score. And just 56 yards of offense in the 3rd and 4th quarters until the touchdown drive aided by the officiating in the final minute.
Whatever happened to officials allowing players to decide a game for themselves? I’m reminded of a phrase once used by Marv Levy in one of the best rants of all time that occurred back in 1978, ironically when Levy (a former Buffalo coach) was coaching against the Bills for Kansas City and pointed toward a referee:
“You over-officious jerk!”
No matter how bad…
- Indianapolis blew a 33-0 lead over Minnesota, resulting in the greatest single-game comeback in NFL history. Minnesota, 39-36.
- Tom Brady was 89-0 in his career with a 17-point lead. Now 89-1. Cincinnati, 34-23.
- The NY Jets led Detroit with 4:41 remaining and gave up a 78-yard drive in six plays…only to miss a last-second try at a tying field goal. Detroit, 20-17.
- Looking like a Super Bowl contender, Dallas gave up a 52-yard interception return for a TD to lose in overtime at Jacksonville. Jacksonville, 40-34.
- At 1-11-1 going in, Houston had Kansas City on the ropes. And couldn’t come off those ropes themselves in overtime. Kansas City, 30-24.
Feel any better, Patriots fans?
Didn’t think so.