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Lateral Damage: Patriots’ Playoff Chances Take Hit After Loss on Bizzare Final Play

The Las Vegas Raiders defeated the New England Patriots, 30-24, on Sunday with one of the most bizarre and improbable finishes in NFL history.

Tied 24-all with just three seconds left from their own 45-yard line, the Patriots — who appeared satisfied going to overtime — ran a draw play up the middle. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson gained 23 yards and, before being tackled near the Raiders’ 30, pitched the ball backward to wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, who then lateraled it across the field, where former Patriots pass rusher Chandler Jones picked it off, stiff-armed quarterback Mac Jones and ran 48 yards for the winning score.

“I would say we made a mistake on it,” understated Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after the game when asked if Stevenson was told to lateral the ball. “You know, play didn’t work. Made a mistake on the play.”

It was just the third time in NFL history a game was decided by a fumble recovery with time expiring. The last time it happen was in 1978 in the Holy Roller game.

“I was trying to do too much,” Meyers told reporters after the game. “Trying to be a hero, I guess.”

Belichick said he didn’t consider a Hail Mary on the final play because Jones doesn’t have the arm strength to throw the ball into the end zone from that distance. Asked if his coaches told the players prior to the last play to go down and get to overtime rather than trying a desperation lateral play, Belichick said, “Well, obviously, that would’ve been better than the result.

“Look, we’ve talked about situational football, we talk about it every week. But we’ve obviously got to do a better job playing situational football and not making critical mistakes in the game.”

“Amazing,” said former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who called the game for Patriots radio. “This might be one of the dumbest teams I’ve ever seen.”

The Raiders entered the game as 1.5-point favorites and covered without the use of overtime.

The loss leaves the Patriots at 7-7 and tied for third in the AFC East. Per FiveThirtyEight, they saw their playoff odds dip from 42 percent entering the game to just 19% percent after Jones crossed the goal line for the Raiders’ second touchdown in the final 32 seconds. New England’s final three games are against the Bengals, Dolphins and Bills.

WATCH: KJ Osborn Reacts to Wild Ending

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