The Patriots went with what was supposed to be a conservative play call with three seconds left in their Week 15 game against the Raiders.
The teams were tied 24-24 and the Patriots didn’t have a realistic chance at scoring. So they handed the ball to Rhamondre Stevenson on a draw play that was designed to run out the clock and send the game to overtime.
Instead, disaster struck for the Patriots.
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Stevenson ran 23 yards up the middle and toward the right sideline. He eventually was surrounded by Raiders, but instead of dropping to the ground, he lateraled the ball to wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, who ran backward with the ball in his hands.
Then, Meyers made a critical mistake. He decided to lateral the ball back to Mac Jones. He didn’t see Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones in front of his quarterback.
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Chandler Jones grabbed the lateral and steamrolled Mac Jones to score a game-winning touchdown.
— NFL (@NFL) December 19, 2022
The play was as shocking as it was costly to the Patriots, who dropped from the No. 7 seed in the AFC entering the week to the No. 8 seed with the defeat. They are now on the outside looking in as they try to make a late-season playoff push.
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Naturally, the unfathomable nature of the gaffe drew the attention NFL fans, media analysts and players alike. The Patriots were roasted for the play in every way imaginable, from memes to jokes to references to the “Miami Miracle” — another ill-fated lateral play of which the Patriots ended up on the wrong side.
Below are some of the most notable reactions to the play.
There have been exactly two game-winning walk-off touchdowns on multi-lateral plays in NFL history:
—the Patriots allowing a touchdown to the Dolphins in 2018
—the Patriots lateralling to the Raiders in 2022
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) December 19, 2022
It’s extremely funny that the Patriots chose to run the ball like cowards so that something dumb wouldn’t happen & then THAT happened
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 19, 2022
Dumbest most indefensible last second Patriots loss of my lifetime. And I’m old enough to remember the Joe Ferguson Hail Mary.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) December 19, 2022
I REFUSE TO BELIEVE WHAT I JUST SAW FROM THE PATRIOTS ON THE LAST PLAY OF THE GAME 😳😳😳
— LeGarrette Blount (@LG_Blount) December 19, 2022
Patriots fans watching the Raiders win pic.twitter.com/oVxtFesl9y
— Josiah Johnson (@KingJosiah54) December 19, 2022
Everybody in the entire Patriots organization at that moment pic.twitter.com/tDu5BXKPzz
— David Steele (@David_C_Steele) December 19, 2022
And RIP Mac Jones (1998-2022), gone but not forgotten pic.twitter.com/2h5fBPCWhx
— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) December 19, 2022
Between that and the Dolphins game winner from 2018, the Patriots are now on the wrong end of two of the most embarrassing lateral sequences in recent history
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) December 19, 2022
This play was just replaced as the worst play in NFL history.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 19, 2022
Patriots fans watching the end of that game. pic.twitter.com/NipmqXBgij
— Jersey Jerry (@Jerrythekid21) December 19, 2022
Surely, it will be a while before the Patriots are able to live this down. And at the very least, it will be difficult for them to scrub it from their memory as they look to bounce back against the Bengals on Christmas Eve.