Watch: JuJu Smith-Schuster drops Mac Jones pass that leads to game-sealing interception


The Patriots had a chance to either tie or win the game late, but another offensive miscue cost them.

JuJu Smith-Schuster’s fourth-quarter drop ended the the Patriots’ hopes of a comeback win. AP Photo/Greg M. Coope

The Patriots watched their chances of potentially pulling off a fourth-quarter comeback against the Commanders slip through their hands.

Trailing 20-17 in the final minute of Sunday’s game, Mac Jones looked like he was going to have New England in a spot to at least tie the game. The Patriots quarterback got the team to the Commanders’ 41-yard line with 38 seconds left, only needing eight more yards to get within Chad Ryland’s career-long field goal distance.

But on second-and-8, Jones’s pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster went right through the veteran wideout’s hands, winding up in Commanders safety Jartavius Martin’s hands instead. The Patriots didn’t have any more timeouts left, allowing Sam Howell and the Commanders to kneel the ball once to end the game.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick seemed to absolve Jones of blame for the Patriots’ final offensive play.

“I think that was really the read, you just don’t wanna lose the ball there,” Belichick told reporters when asked if he was OK with Jones’s read on the play. “We’re in field goal range. Sure, it’s a long kick, but the ball gets tipped up in the air and it’s an interception.”

The drop by Smith-Schuster exemplified the Patriots’ offensive struggles this season, falling to 2-7 with the loss. They only recorded 327 yards of total offense against a Commanders team that allowed the fourth-most yards yards per game in the league entering Week 9.

Smith-Schuster finished with a team-high six receptions, posting 51 receiving yards as the Patriots played with depleted receiving corps. The interception was Jones’s only turnover of the game. The Patriots quarterback completed 24 of 44 passes for 220 yards, adding a touchdown as his attempt to get a second-straight fourth-quarter comeback win at home fell short.

Smith-Schuster’s drop was also the second costly drop of the game by a Patriots receiver. Late in the third quarter, Jalen Reagor dropped a deep pass from Jones that would’ve either put the Patriots in scoring position or resulted in a touchdown.