New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders
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Bill Belichick is now at a place where he's never been in his 29-year coaching career: 1-5 to start a season. That comes after his Patriots came up short on the road against the Raiders, 21-17. What has been a common thread during this unprecedented time for the future Hall of Fame head coach is his club's inability to come out on the winning end of a game that is very much within their grasp. That's particularly true as these games enter their final moments and New England is faced with must-make situations. 

In this loss to Las Vegas, those warts reared their head in a couple of different spots. The most egregious came when the Patriots got the ball back and were given an opportunity to march down the field and kick what would have been a game-winning field goal. Mac Jones uncorked arguably his best throw of the season, throwing a deep pass up the left sideline that hit DeVante Parker in-stride and in the hands, and would have set up a handful of makeable attempts to set up a field goal. 

Instead, Jones's throw -- and the game -- slipped right through Parker's fingers. 

Sandwiched in between that missed opportunity were penalties that sent the Patriots backward. Atonio Mafi erased a 5-yard run by Rhamondre Stevenson for offensive holding and a delay of game kicked Jones and Co. inside their own 10-yard line. It was at that point, that Jones took a sack from Maxx Crosby in the end zone for a safety that effectively iced the game. 

Even before that final nail in the coffin, however, some poor discipline in the form of penalties further put New England behind the eight ball. While the infraction was somewhat debatable, corner J.C. Jackson put himself in a situation where the officials flagged him for defensive pass interference on Raiders wideout Tre Tucker just before that final possession for the offense. That erased what would have been a three-and-out forced by the defense at the 2:48 mark of the fourth quarter. That fresh set of downs after the third-and-8 play also led to the Patriots burning all three of their timeouts before they got the ball back. Instead of playing complementary football with the defense putting the offense in solid position, the dominoes were falling in the wrong direction. 

And that has been a common thread through these games for New England dating to Week 1. Whether it's not getting both feet in bounds on a fourth-down play vs. the Eagles, a failed fourth-down conversion vs. Miami, or deciding to punt at the opponent's 40-yard line like Belichick elected to do last week against New Orleans, the Patriots haven't put their best foot forward in critical situations. 

For years, the Patriots' bread-and-butter was their ability to make as little mistakes as possible. Moreover, they'd also leap and take full advantage of whatever miscue their opposition made en route to victory. This version of the Patriots, however, resembles more of those opponents than the team's of yesteryear. 

From coaching on down, that ability to execute in late-game situations is an intangible that the 2023 Patriots are sorely missing and a big-picture cavity that shouldn't be overlooked whenever they conduct a postmortem on the season and how they'll rebound in the games and seasons to come.