LAS VEGAS — Defensive end Chandler Jones grabbed a bizarre, unnecessary lateral by New England’s Jakobi Meyers out of the air on the final play and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown, giving the Las Vegas Raiders a 30-24 victory over the Patriots on Sunday.
With the game tied at 24-all, the Patriots decided to run a series of pitches in a last-ditch attempt to avoid overtime. Rhamondre Stevenson pitched the ball to Meyers, who heaved it across the field and into the arms of Jones, who had nothing but open field in front of him.
The wild finish bailed out the Raiders (6-8), who led 17-3 at halftime before allowing the Patriots (7-7) to score 21 straight points. Las Vegas scored two touchdowns in the final 32 seconds and seriously damaged New England’s playoff hopes.
Stevenson, who went to high school in Las Vegas, had 19 carries for 172 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown with 3:43 left that appeared to put the game away.
But the Raiders answered in the final minute. Derek Carr found Keenan Cole in the left corner of the end zone for a 30-yard TD. Cole’s left foot came down close to the boundary, but the play was upheld on review.
Then came the final play that will surely lead to questions about the strategy of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who lost to his longtime assistant, Raiders coach Josh McDaniels.
New England fell one game out of the final AFC playoff spot and its last three games are all against postseason contenders.
Carr completed 20 of 38 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns. Josh Jacobs rushed for 93 yards on 22 carries as the Raiders ended a six-game losing streak to the Patriots dating to 2002.
The Raiders appeared to take control when they scored two touchdowns in the final 5:18 of the first half.
Darren Waller, who was activated Saturday off injured reserve, caught a 25-yard TD pass. It was Waller’s first game since injuring a hamstring on Oct. 10 at Kansas City.
Any thoughts of the Raiders cruising to victory ended quickly in the third quarter. New England cornerback Kyle Dugger jumped an out route to Davante Adams and returned the interception 13 yards for a touchdown.
Nick Folk’s 47-yard field goal with 1:21 left in the third quarter brought the Patriots within 17-13, and he made a 54-yarder early in the fourth to make it a one-point game.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.