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Mike Gesicki created enough of a gap to catch a crucial fourth-and-1 on the Patriots’ final drive, but he could tell he was just shy of the first scorer.
So he turned around and held his head high, scanning the field for someone to move the ball to. He opted for offensive guard Cole Strange, who was trailing the play.
Strange jumped and did a spinning hold. He kept his feet facing the first marker. The officials initially ruled that Strange had the first down, but the play was reviewed and the final decision was that Strange was short of the line.
“I caught the ball and I felt like I was going back to it, so I felt like I was small,” Gesicki said. “Also, it was on their sideline and I kind of heard people cheering like it was short, so at that point I was like, ‘I can’t go down with the ball.’
“So I knew if I could give it back to someone. I saw one of the biggest people on the field on our offensive line, Cole, and I threw to him. I thought we had it, but unfortunately we didn’t.
For the second week in a row, the Patriots lost a heartbreaker with ball in hand in the final minute.
“It seems close, but it’s a little annoying trying to get close,” Strange said.
Gesicki slammed his helmet in frustration after the play.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Gesicki said. “You only have 17 opportunities and two of them are gone now. But in the end, we have 15 left and a lot of football ahead of us. A lot of hard workers, a lot of great coaches, it’s a great organization to be a part of and we have to get back to work tomorrow.
Strange, a 6-foot-5, 310-pound offensive guard, said he can’t remember the last time he caught a football in a game. He felt he had the first try, but the final decision proved otherwise.
“I caught him, I ran him and I didn’t get him,” Strange said. “There’s not much to do.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick declined to comment on what he saw during the play.
“Yes, you should talk to the people in charge,” Belichick said. “I’m sure they will do a pool report on this.”
Quarterback Mac Jones said he had two options for the play and chose the one Gesicki ran. Ultimately, Gesicki caught the ball and made a one-on-one play that nearly saved the drive, but the Patriots came close for the second week in a row.
“Yes, the most important thing is that we are close,” Jones said. “We ran the ball pretty well, but we just didn’t get it. Last week we were behind and somehow scored a couple touchdowns.”
“You know, and if we can combine those two things, move the ball, and then put it in the red zone, I think everyone would be smiling right now,” Jones continued. “So that’s the biggest thing, just watching the tape and seeing how we can fit it in, make it easier for the defense and special teams.”
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