The final play of the Patriots vs. Raiders game will likely go down in history as one of the worst and most bizarre events to ever occur in the NFL. Although the team deserves scrutiny for the unfortunate mistakes made during the final moments of a game that should’ve been headed to overtime, Bill Belichick’s response about making a different play call made the entire situation even more perplexing.
Players and Belichick revealed the original plan for the last three seconds of the game was a draw play with the intention of Rhamondre Stevenson running the clock to force overtime. Many questioned if the Patriots should’ve had Mac Jones go for a Hail Mary pass to put the game away rather than continuing into overtime since they had the football at their own 45-yard-line. But when Belichick was asked if he had considered making that play call, his response stirred up controversy regarding his belief in Jones.
"“Couldn’t throw it that far. Couldn’t throw it that far.”"
It’s unclear what exactly the coach meant by his comment, considering Jones has shown throughout his college and NFL career that he certainly has the arm strength to make a 55-yard pass downfield. Jeff Howe of The Athletic mentioned an example from Jones’ last season at Alabama, referencing a deep pass the quarterback made to Jaylen Waddle in 2020.
Was Belichick’s response more so directed at the offensive line, a unit that has been problematic all season in providing enough protection to the quarterback to make a good throw? It’s possible. But it still sounds like Belichick was slighting his quarterback.
Jones had his chance to respond to the idea of changing the play-call and Belichick’s comment during his weekly appearance on WEEI’s “Merloni, Fauria & Mego” on Monday.
The quarterback was asked if he felt a 55-yard Hail Mary would’ve been too far for him to throw a completion.
"“No. I think we obviously have a plan in that situation. You obviously have to think about everything in that situation, and that’s what (Belichick) did. That’s his job and he’s obviously done that for a long time, but whatever the play call is — I’m going to run it and do it the best I can.If it was a Hail Mary, it was a Hail Mary. If it was a run, it was a run. That’s what I always tell myself regardless of the situation, ‘What’s my job and how do I do it?’ “"
There should be no question if Jones is capable of making that completion had the play-call been for a Hail Mary. There are examples proving his arm strength is not a particular issue when discussing the quarterback’s weaknesses. But with just three seconds left on the clock in a tied game, forcing the game into overtime seems like the most logical and safe plan, as opposed to a Hail Mary, which could’ve resulted in an interception or, worse yet, a pick-six.
However, almost anything would’ve been better than how the game ended on Sunday.