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Patriots to Move Past Last-Second Loss

If there ever was a time for the New England Patriots to have a short memory, it’s now.

Coming off one of the most baffling ways to lose a game in recent memory, the Patriots (7-7) will attempt to get back on track Saturday when they clash with the hot Cincinnati Bengals (10-4) in Foxborough, Mass.

New England lost in downright stunning fashion on Sunday, 30-24 to the Las Vegas Raiders. While storylines ahead of the contest centered on Bill Belichick’s reunion with Josh McDaniels, that certainly wasn’t the topic of conversation after the game. On the final play, Rhamondre Stevenson took a handoff and rushed 23 yards before sending a lateral to receiver Jakobi Meyers. Meyers turned and heaved a pass back toward midfield, where Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones was waiting. He caught the ball, trucked Patriots quarterback Mac Jones and scored from 48 yards out. “I thought I saw Mac open,” Meyers said. “I didn’t see Chandler Jones at the time.” But even after all that, New England’s postseason hopes aren’t extinct.

While the Patriots are on the outside looking in when it comes to the AFC playoff picture, they sit just one game behind both the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers, who hold the No. 6 and 7 seeds, respectively. Once New England plays Miami in Week 17, it will have a better idea of how potential tiebreakers play out, but a victory this week is of the utmost importance.

“Follow the same process we always follow,” Belichick said. “Correct the mistakes, identify things we need to keep doing well, and move on and get ready for Cincinnati.” Worrying about tiebreakers likely won’t be on the docket for the Bengals, who could secure a playoff berth as soon as Thursday if the Jets lose or play to a tie against Jacksonville. Should New York win, a Cincinnati victory or tie on Saturday would do the trick.

Getting to this point hasn’t been easy for the Bengals, though, as they’ve had to win eight of their last nine games to move one game ahead of the Baltimore Ravens atop the AFC North.

Cincinnati’s latest triumph was 34-23 over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Joe Burrow completed 27 of 39 passes for 200 yards, four touchdowns and an interception to help overcome an early 17-0 deficit.

“Still gotta win all the games. It’s going to come down to that last one,” Burrow said. “We’ve got a short week this week. Gotta go to New England on a Saturday, so we gotta get our bodies right and get the work in (that) we need in a short amount of time.” Due to that short week, Cincinnati held a walkthrough on Tuesday instead of a full team practice. Had the Bengals practiced in full, defensive end Sam Hubbard would have been a non-participant with a calf injury, while receiver Tee Higgins (hamstring), cornerback Mike Hilton (knee) and tight end Hayden Hurst (calf) would have been limited. New England didn’t practice on Tuesday, either, but cornerback Jalen Mills would have been held out with a groin injury and receiver DeVante Parker would have been absent due to a concussion. Stevenson (ankle), fellow running back Damien Harris (thigh) and Meyers (shoulder) would have been limited.

–Field Level Media


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