LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — On the game’s final play, Chandler Jones returned a fumble — on the school yard, it’d be called a lateral — 48 yards for a touchdown in one whacky finish that gave the Raiders a 30-24 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium.
“That was crazy,” Jones said on national television moments after rambling in for the decisive touchdown. ” We found a way. We just found a way. It’s just a blessing, honestly.”
It looked as if the Raiders (6-8) were going to hold off a final drive by the Patriots and force overtime. With three seconds left and the Pats on their own 44, Rhamondre Stevenson, the Las Vegas kid from Centennial High School, ran to the right for 23 yards and lateraled to teammate Jacobi Meyers. But Meyers’ lateral to quarterback Mac Jones was picked off by Jones.
The gangly lineman caught the ball, stiff-armed the Patriots quarterback and rambled in for the winning score, escorted by several of his jubilant teammates. In the NFL, such a lateral is recorded as a fumble recovery.
Stevenson was a dominant force, rushing 19 times for 172 yards, including a 34-yard TD with 3:43 left that gave the Patriots (7-7) a 24-17 lead.
But Derek Carr and the Raiders came back with a nine-play, 81-yard drive capped by a 30-yard TD toss to Keenan Cole with 1:39 remaining that tied the game. The play was reviewed, and Cole, whose catch came at the sideline in the end zone, was found to have both feet in bounds.
The Raiders led 17-3 at halftime, and then it looked as if they were once again going to stumble in the second half.
“We’ve had our fair share of close losses, the ones that got away,” Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said. “Our team continued to fight, play hard and never got down on themselves.”
Carr was 20-for-38 passing with three TDs and an interception that was returned 16 yards for a TD by Pats safety Kyle Dugger at the start of the second half.
In addition to the 30-yarder to Cole, Carr’s TD passes were for 5 yards to Mac Hollins and 25 yards to Darren Waller.
The loss dampens New England’s playoff chances and gives McDaniels a 2-0 record in matchups against his mentor, Patriots coach Bill Belichick.