The Las Vegas Raiders defeated the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon in a game with one of the craziest, most mind-boggling endings you will ever see. It may go down in history as the wildest ending to a regular-season football game of all time. It’s nice to see the Raiders on the winning end of a boneheaded play for a change. Nevertheless, that game was much more than that one play. Who stood in the spotlight and who stayed in the shadows?
Patriots vs. Raiders: The Winners
Chandler hadn’t had a huge impact on the game prior to the final play. He’d collected two tackles, two batted passes, and two quarterback hits, but no sacks. In fact, he missed a tackle on the final play of the game that allowed Rhamondre Stevenson to break free in the first place. But then Jones had what was possibly the greatest example of being in the right place at the right time that man has ever witnessed. Jakobi Meyers, for reasons known only to him, lateraled the ball in the general vicinity of quarterback Mac Jones. Unfortunately, it was Chandler who caught the ball instead.
The beleaguered Patriots quarterback squared up as if to tackle the Raiders defensive end but received a “Chokeslam From Hell” for his troubles as he was stiff-armed into the Shadow Realm. Chandler rumbled the rest of the way into the end zone, and the Raiders won. For this play alone, Chandler Jones is now a Raiders legend. Additionally, anyone who says a bad word about him ever again is wrong.
Early on in this game, we saw a glimpse of what the Raiders offense is supposed to look like at full strength. Can any team shut down Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs, and Darren Waller at the same time? The answer is no, as Waller found himself uncovered on a 25-yard touchdown pass. It is supposed to be that easy, and with Waller healthy again, the Raiders will be even more difficult to stop than they’ve already proven to be.
The Raiders were unable to get Davante Adams going as they usually do, which kept the game close. Patriots corner Marcus Jones was draped over Adams all day, and Derek Carr seldom looked Adams’ way. Jones ended up with five tackles and one pass breakup, but his actual impact on the game was massive, and had the Pats ended up winning, he would definitely have been the main reason why.
Stevenson, despite the last play of the game, where he lateraled to Meyers for some reason, put together an outstanding effort against the Raiders. He carried the ball 19 times for 172 yards and a touchdown. The Raiders’ defense had one of their best games of the season. Even so, they could not stop Stevenson at all. He should be a key building block for New England going forward.
Patriots vs. Raiders: The Losers
The Patriots had such a bad day through the air against the Raiders that Meyers was their leading receiver with two catches for 47 yards. Nobody will ever remember that. What they will remember is Meyers, on the game’s final play, hurling the ball inexplicably toward the center of the field, where it was caught by Chandler Jones. The game was tied, and the clock read 0:00. Had Meyers simply run out of bounds or fallen down, the game would have gone to overtime.
The one thing Meyers could not do in this situation was turn the ball over, but that is precisely what he did. This was an embarrassment on the level of Leon Lett fumbling on the goal line, or Mark Sanchez’ Butt Fumble, or Jim Marshall returning the ball the wrong way. This will never be forgotten. Meyers used to be merely famous. Now he is infamous.
When Jones was coming out in the draft, there was plenty of debate amongst 49ers fans about whether the team should take him or Trey Lance. It turns out that the answer was neither. Instead, the answer was to wait a year and draft Brock Purdy. Without Josh McDaniels in New England, Mac Jones has turned back into a pumpkin. Now, Patriots fans are calling for Bailey Zappe, which is what I used when I played Duck Hunt as a kid. Jones was godawful against the Raiders, going 13 of 31 for 112 yards and no touchdowns. Unfortunately for him, he will only be remembered for being mercilessly demolished by Chandler Jones on the game’s final play, and he will be a meme forever. Mac Jones is a prime example of why sometimes it’s best to make a “business decision” and not tackle someone.
With the Raiders’ top two guards out of the game early on, the Patriots’ defensive line feasted and was able to sack Derek Carr three times. Josh Uche and Lawrence Guy were in the backfield consistently, and Carr had to roll out and run for his life frequently. The Steelers will bring plenty of pressure, so the Raiders need to fix this issue quickly.
As the greatest head coach of all time, Bill Belichick has developed quite the reputation. It’s a reputation built on leading teams that play smart football and do not beat themselves. None of that was on display in Las Vegas. Looking back, the Patriots absolutely did not have it together. They committed silly penalties by not having play calls in on time, costing them points they surely could have used. This culminated with the Patriots doing the single dumbest thing ever done on a football field. Belichick only has himself to blame here. After all, he was the one who replaced McDaniels as offensive coordinator with Joe Judge and Matt Patricia, which is like replacing a Range Rover with a Suzuki Samurai.
Belichick has spent far too long hiring absolute idiots as his assistants, only to see them fail elsewhere and then hire them back. You can teach an assistant coach all day long, impart all the wisdom and knowledge you like, but you cannot make him smart. Belichick is a certified genius, but he has never made anyone smart. And when the deviants who call in to Boston sports talk radio shows finally get their way and Bill is canned, he can go be smart somewhere else instead of cluttering up the NFL head coaching circles with idiots.
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*Top Photo: Chris Unger/Getty Images