Wild stat highlights rarity of Patriots' disappointing loss to Vikings

One that got away? Stat captures rarity of Patriots' loss to Vikings originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

If we told you that the New England Patriots would score 26 points on 409 yards of total offense with no turnovers against the Minnesota Vikings, you probably would have guaranteed a victory.

And the numbers would have backed you up.

According to Opta Stats, teams that scored at least 25 points, gained at least 400 total yards, outgained their opponent, completed at least 70 percent of their passes, had fewer than 60 penalty yards, didn't commit any turnovers and didn't miss a field goal were a perfect 170-0 entering Thursday night.

Patriots-Vikings takeaways: Mac Jones looks sharp in losing effort

Make that 171-1, as the Patriots checked all of those boxes and still found a way to lose 33-26 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

That's a heartbreaking stat for Patriots fans who watched their team squander arguably the best game of Mac Jones' young career. The second-year quarterback completed 28 of 39 passes for a career-high 382 yards with two touchdown passes and zero interceptions.

Five Patriots posted at least 60 receiving yards, as Jones shredded Minnesota's zone defense with multiple big plays.

So, how the heck did New England lose this game?

The Patriots' defense and special teams were primary culprits. After not allowing a touchdown in back-to-back games, New England had a much tougher time slowing down Kirk Cousins and superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who went off for 139 yards and a touchdown on nine catches.

The Patriots also allowed Minnesota's Kene Nwangwu to spring a 93-yard kick return for a touchdown that erased New England's 7-point lead in the third quarter, and Pierre Strong Jr.'s running-into-the kicker penalty on a Vikings punt paved the way for Minnesota to take the lead on a fourth-quarter Adam Thielen touchdown pass.

Bill Belichick's team made several uncharacteristic and unforced errors in this game, committing six penalties for a total of 55 yards and poorly managing the clock at the end of the first half and at the end of regulation. You could argue the officials made an impact, too, as Hunter Henry's apparent touchdown catch was controversially overturned in the third quarter.

The Patriots found a formula for success in recent weeks with elite defense and strong special teams play that helped overcome an anemic offense. On Thursday, they completely flipped that script, wasting a rare offensive explosion with poor defense, erratic special teams play and costly errors at key junctures.