Three Silly, Sad, and Super Microcosms of Boston’s Sports

Oliver Henke, Contributing Writer

1. Las Vegas Lateral

The New England Patriots built their dynasty by avoiding mistakes that teams like the Jets and Lions perennially commit. But since the departure of Tom Brady, the Patriots have been plagued by costly penalties, poor special teams, and boneheaded plays. Perhaps no game was more representative of their struggles than the one which gifted the Raiders—coached by former Patriots coordinator Josh McDaniels—a Week 15 victory.

With the game tied 24-24 and three seconds remaining, the Patriots had possession of the ball on their own side of the field. They could have just settled for overtime, but instead, running back Rhamondre Stevenson ran the ball “up the gut” for 25 yards and lateralled the ball to receiver Jakobi Meyers. Attempting to keep the play alive, Meyers heaved a desperation lateral to… Mac Jones? Regardless, the ball ended up in the hands of Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones, who tackled Mac Jones and ran 50 yards for the game-winning touchdown. In the postgame press conference following the loss, Head Coach Bill Belichick mumbled that they “have to limit those mistakes.”

2. Blue Jays’ Raimel Tapia’s inside-the-park grand slam, Sox fall 28-5

The 2022 Red Sox regressed from their 2021 near-World Series campaign with a last-place showing in the AL East. Their greatest struggle throughout this disappointing season was seeing the ball in the outfield at Fenway Park (and defense in general). This moment in late July encapsulates the Sox’s hardships. The Sox were already lagging in the playoff race, and this blunder sent them spiraling straight to the basement.

Early in the game, with the bases loaded, Blue Jays outfielder Raimel Tapia sent a high flyball to deep center field, where Red Sox centerfielder Jarren Duran should have run. However, he lost the ball in the twilight, and it landed about a mile behind him. While the Jays circled the bases, Duran watched helplessly as his teammate ran after the ball. It was too late, and the Blue Jays had an inside-the-park grand slam on their way to a—this is not a typo—28-5 victory over the Sox.

3. Final 30 Seconds of Celtics-Nets Playoff Game 1

In 2022, the Celtics transformed into a powerhouse, shedding their inconsistencies in January. Before then, they were consistently awful in the fourth quarter and did not have enough team-first basketball from stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. In the new year, they became a cohesive unit, and no moment was more revealing than the final two possessions of Game 1 of the Celtics-Nets first-round playoff matchup.

With 30 seconds remaining, the Nets’ offense was stifled by effective double-teams from the Boston ballers, who forced a bad shot from Kevin Durant as the shot clock expired. With twelve seconds remaining, the Celtics rushed the ball up the court, Brown dribbling around the court before hitting Marcus Smart, who pump-faked and drove to the hoop. The crowd held its breath as Smart sent a crisp chest pass to Jayson Tatum, who spun around Kyrie Irving and laid the ball up just as time expired. As Tatum put it in his postgame press conference after the Game 1 victory, “We’ve just been playing the right way.”

This article also appears in our January 2023 print edition.