LAS VEGAS (AP)The New England Patriots finally found some offense.
Unfortunately for them, they also ran into the same self-inflicted mistakes that have haunted them most of the season during Sunday’s 21-17 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Patriots are 1-5 for the first time with Bill Belichick as coach. It’s been an inept offense that has driven into the red zone just twice in its past 33 possessions. The loss came against a Raiders defense that came into the game allowing opposing offenses to score on 41.2% of their drives – 11th highest in the league.
“We had our chances today,” New England coach Bill Belichick said. “We got to play better and coach better.”
The offense gained just 259 yards and generated only 4.6 yards per play.
Quarterback Mac Jones was 24 of 33 for 200 yards but also threw a costly interception in the second quarter with the Patriots driving. Rolling to his right, Jones misfired while targeting a wide-open Hunter Henry.
Instead, he overshot Henry and Raiders safety Tre’von Moehrig was there for his second interception of the season.
“I definitely think the communication is important,” the third-year quarterback said. “Interceptions are part of the game and I didn’t make a good throw. Just trying to do too much and they got three points from it or whatever, and that’s on me.”
At halftime, they had just four first downs. And until Ezekiel Elliott took a direct snap and plowed into the end zone in the third quarter, the Patriots hadn’t scored a touchdown in their previous 12 full quarters.
Yet despite the struggles, the Patriots found themselves trailing by two points, with the ball at their 9-yard line with 2:23 left in the game.
Jones completed a short pass to Rhamondre Stevenson for a 6-yard gain. But Stevenson’s ensuing 5-yard scamper was negated by a holding penalty that put the Patriots back on their 8-yard line.
Jones targeted DeVante Parker on a deep route down the left sideline, but his pass was dropped at the 50-yard line.
A delay of game penalty moved the ball to the 4-yard line, and on third down Bilal Nichols and Maxx Crosby sacked Jones in the end zone for a safety that sealed the win.
The Patriots finished with 10 penalties for 79 yards. Their 39 penalties this season are tied for eighth most in the league.
The Patriots return to Foxborough once again looking to correct things with their offense and will need to do so quickly with Buffalo coming to town next Sunday, one week before they travel to Miami to face the first-place Dolphins.
Stevenson said they’ll also be looking to dig deep for confidence.
“I know this is frustrating, we want to win,” said Stevenson, who finished with 46 yards on 10 carries and one touchdown. “We all love this game, and we’re competitors at the end of the day, so we want to win games. But I think we still got hope in ourselves and we’re gonna go to work every day, attack practice, attack each week like it’s our last. We’re just going to build on everything we’re doing and just get better on the things we’re not doing good.
“It just starts within and just being your own leader and just following the guys that do it well and just on to the next day and just keep your head up and just stay working on it.”
AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl