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This Day In Sports: "Toss for a Loss"

PIC: Boston Globe

The regular season is a grueling 17-game marathon, filled with exhilarating wins, crushing defeats, and moments of pure absurdity. The Patriots have - of course - erred on the side of absurdity these past few months. But to flash back to last season, few plays encapsulate the randomness and heartbreak of professional football quite like the "Toss for a Loss" on December 18, 2022, between the Las Vegas Raiders and the New England Patriots.

With seconds left on the clock and the score tied 24-24, the Patriots found themselves in a precarious situation. Facing a 3rd and 10 on their own 45-yard line, quarterback Mac Jones handed off the football to Rhamondre Stevenson, who gained a good chunk of yardage well beyond the first-down marker. Stevenson, realizing he wouldn't reach the end zone, lateraled the ball back to Jakobi Meyers, who was open behind him. After scrambling to find a lane, Meyers retreated backwards, and made a split-second decision that would send shockwaves through the football world. He attempted a backward lateral to Mac Jones to avoid being tackled, but the throw went awry.

The errant toss landed right into the waiting arms of Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones, who steamrolled Mac Jones and rumbled triumphantly into the end zone for a game-winning touchdown. The play, aptly christened the "Toss for a Loss," became an instant meme, forever immortalized in sports blooper reels and NFL lore.

PIC: John Locher, AP Photos

The implications of the play were significant. The Pats, who were fighting for a playoff spot, were left devastated by the unexpected defeat, and essentially wrote off their season from there. The Raiders, on the other hand, received a much-needed boost in their own playoff aspirations. But beyond the immediate impact on the standings, the "Toss for a Loss" transcended the game itself. It became a cautionary tale about the unpredictable nature of football and the fine line between victory and defeat.

The play sparked heated debate among fans and analysts. Many criticized Meyers for making a reckless decision under pressure. Others defended him, arguing that the Pats were destined to lose in overtime had the game continued. Regardless of the differing perspectives, one thing was certain: the "Toss for a Loss" was a moment of pure sporting drama, etched forever in the annals of NFL history.

Additional Notes:

  • The "Toss for a Loss" play was voted the "Play of the Year" by NFL fans.

  • Chandler Jones' game-winning touchdown was the 2nd of his career.

  • The Raiders, who were put in the "In The Hunt" bucket in most playoff models after the game, went 0-3 in their last three games to close the season. They finished 6-11.

  • The Patriots went 1-2 in their last three contests, finishing 8-9. They missed out on the playoffs for the 2nd time in their last 3 years. Had they won this game, they would've finished 9-8, tied with the Miami Dolphins, who earned the #7 playoff spot in the AFC standings.


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