The Patriots were close to erasing a 22-0 deficit against the Bengals in Week 16. They were trailing 22-18 with less than a minute remaining but had driven to the Cincinnati 5-yard line with a first-and-goal opportunity upcoming.
It looked like New England was poised to get a potential game-winning score.
Instead, running back Rhamondre Stevenson fumbled that opportunity away.
Chaos in NE! The @Bengals recover the football in the redzone with less than a minute left to play 😯
— NFL (@NFL) December 24, 2022
Stevenson’s fumble proved costly to the Patriots. They got the ball back after his fumble, but they never crossed their own 39-yard line with just 41 seconds left to mount a potential game-winning drive.
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But what exactly happened during the play? Stevenson told reporters after the game that he was just trying to fight for extra yardage in the hopes of scoring.
“Was trying to make something happen,” the running back said. “Probably trying to do more than I should. Probably should’ve just gone down.”
That response will sound familiar to Patriots fans. Why? Because it lines up closely with what Jakobi Meyers said following New England’s loss to the Raiders in Week 16.
Meyers was similarly despondent after an ill-fated, late-game lateral of his led to a Raiders touchdown with no time left on the clock.
— . (@ABsneurosurgeon) December 19, 2022
“I was just doing too much. Trying to be a hero, I guess,” Meyers said of the play. “I should have just went down with the ball.”
MORE: Meyers’ ill-conceived lateral stuns NFL world
Stevenson was involved in both miscues, as he was the one who first lateralled the ball to Meyers. Still, he seemed particularly bothered by his fumble against the Bengals and reportedly apologized to each of his starting offensive linemen for the turnover.
After the #Patriots loss, Rhamondre Stevenson went up to each starting offensive lineman to apologize for his late-game fumble.
— George Balekji (@GeorgeBalekji) December 24, 2022
Stevenson will have a chance to atone for his mistakes in Week 17 when the Patriots take on the Dolphins.
However, the damage already appears to be done, as it will be hard for the Patriots — now 7-8 — to make any sort of postseason push.