A number of factors contributed to the New England Patriots' defeat against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
From the difficult weather conditions and questionable refereeing decisions to yet more injury issues, a number of things conspired to end the Pats' hopes of an unbeaten season.
One issue, though, which certainly had a big impact on the game's momentum was New England's muffed punt recovered by Denver in the fourth quarter. And the culprit, Chris Harper, has now paid the ultimate price for the costly mistake.
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As first reported by Patriots insider Tom E. Curran, and since confirmed by the reigning Super Bowl champions' Twitter account, the rookie wide receiver was released on Monday evening.
Harper's release completes something of a rollercoaster few weeks for the undrafted rookie.
Promoted to the active roster in the wake of Julian Edelman's injury, and having seen Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson also go down injured, there had been some expectation that the former Cal Golden Bear would be thrust into a key slot receiver role down the stretch.
Instead, one muffed punt has seen him jettisoned from the roster altogether.
ESPN's Mike Reiss has noted, however, that the Patriots could likely look to bring Harper back to their practice squad should he clear waivers this week.
Even if that is the case, there is no doubt that the 21-year-old has learnt a harsh lesson about life in the NFL over the past 48 hours.
Patriots fans: What was the main reason you lost against Denver? Have your say in the comments below...
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