You can keep your record comebacks, your peerless feats of skill, your back-and-forth epic battles, and you can especially keep your Cardinals-Broncos. Keep 'em! I don't want 'em! On a wonderful weekend for sports, I am here for boneheadery. Give me trained professionals making terrible decisions. Give me game-losing plays that make an unaffiliated announcer, with genuine horror in his voice, yell "Uh-oh!" (and an affiliated one gasp "Oh my god.")
Let's back up. The Raiders seemed on their way to blowing yet another double-digit lead after the Patriots scored 21 unanswered. But a questionable Keelan Cole TD catch with 32 seconds left tied the game at 24. The Patriots used up their timeouts to get to their own 45, where they were faced with a couple of options. They could take a knee and take their chances in OT. They could try a Hail Mary pass, but as Bill Belichick grumbled afterward, without specifically naming who he was talking about, "Couldn't throw it that far." It's been a banner year for Mac's own coaches humiliating him.
Instead they attempted the fool's kneeldown: a rush up the middle, which carries just about the same chance of success as taking a knee but has many more ways that it can go terribly wrong. Rhamondre Stevenson picked up some decent yardage, but instead of knowing when he was licked lateraled to Jakobi Meyers. And if I had to identify where it all went wrong, I'd probably point to when Meyers threw the ball across the field directly to the Raiders' Chandler Jones. Yeah, that was it. He shouldn't have done that.
But it wasn't a done deal yet! Chandler Jones was behind 10 of 11 Patriots, but he still had Mac Jones squarely between him and paydirt. "Mac was kind of standing there," Chandler Jones said, "looking at me with big eyes.” The battle of the Joneses was over quickly and decisively:
It's Mac's sad little grasping hands that do it for me, personally. But I'm also chuffed by the Patriots—the Patriots!—being responsible for the weirdest, dumbest play in recent NFL memory that doesn't involve a swinging gate. This season has been delightful for completely failing to rehabilitate the reputations of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, and for doing incalculable damage to Belichick's. "Made a mistake on the play," Belichick muttered, consciously not clarifying if he meant a mistake by the players in executing or by the coaches in calling it. Either way it remains an absolute pleasure to see a Belichick team be among the NFL's worst-coached.