After two games without a touchdown, the New England Patriots finally found the end zone on Sunday.
But it wasn't much solace in a 21-17 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders that dropped them to 1-5. New England's offense scored two touchdowns but did little else as quarterback Mac Jones again struggled to keep the ball moving. The game met a fitting ending as New England's last possession produced a Raiders safety.
Fitting, frustrating end for New England
While trailing 19-10 in the fourth quarter, the Patriots mounted a plodding 17-play, 75-yard drive to cut their deficit to 19-17 with 3:33 remaining. A defensive stop then secured possession of the ball with 2:23 left and a chance to drive for the win.
The task proved too daunting as New England started its final possession on its own 9-yard line. The Patriots' best chance was a downfield throw from Jones targeting DeVante Parker that would have put New England close to field-goal range. It was the best pass of the day from Jones, but Parker dropped it, setting New England up for a disastrous third down.
Jones dropped back into the end zone on third-and-15, and got swarmed by Raiders pass rushers and sacked for a safety by Maxx Crosby.
The safety put Las Vegas up 21-17 and allowed the Raiders to kneel down to run out the clock on their ensuing possession. The Raiders won despite losing starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a back injury for the second half. Backup and former Patriot Brian Hoyer took over in the third quarter and closed out the win over his former team.
Jones finished the day completing 24 of 33 passes for 200 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. The interception was an ill-advised second-and-4 throw in the third quarter under pressure that only Tre'von Moehrig had a chance to catch.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) October 15, 2023
The Raiders safety made the interception to thwart a Patriots drive that had advanced to the Raiders' 30-yard line. The Raiders ultimately kicked a field goal, and the Patriots went into halftime trailing 13-3, extending their streak without a touchdown to 12 quarters.
Jones sidelined for New England's first TD
They ended the dubious streak on the first possession of the third quarter. Running back Ezekiel Elliott lined up behind center on the play and carried the ball over the goal line on a 2-yard run to cap a 75-yard drive.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 15, 2023
The first Patriots touchdown in 13 quarters arrived without Jones on the field. Backup Malik Cunningham entered the play at quarterback then motioned left on the misdirection play that saw Elliott take a direct snap.
After two Raiders field-goal drives with Hoyer at quarterback, the Patriots took over while trailing by two possessions with 13:03 remaining. Their ensuing 75-yard drive ended on a Rhamondre Stevenson touchdown, cutting their deficit to 19-17. But it took 9:30 off the clock, leaving New England with no room for error in the game's final 3:33.
The safety ensued, and the Patriots are left again to wonder how to fix an ailing offense. They finished the day with 259 yards from scrimmage on 4.6 yards per play. Things won't get any easier next week with the Buffalo Bills coming to town.