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Sat., Dec. 16, 2017 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM EST
Sun., Dec. 17, 2017 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM EST
Mon., Dec. 18, 2017 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM EST
Matchup Winners: Big plays key rout
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When the Patriots ran:
Truth be told the Patriots didn’t run the ball very well in Mexico. New England’s backfield trio of Dion Lewis (10 carries, 60 yards), Rex Burkhead (5 for 16) and James White (5 for 13) combined for only 89 yards on 20 attempts including a 20-yard run by Lewis late in the first half. Working without two starters, the offensive line had trouble opening holes for the backs and they were often greeted in the backfield. Burkhead also fumbled in the first quarter and was fortunate that Dwayne Allen was able to fight off several Raiders defenders to make the recovery. But the Patriots gain the slight edge basically due to one play. With a 14-0 lead and less than a minute left in the first half the Patriots recovered a fumble inside their 10. Content to run the clock out before halftime, Lewis ripped off a 20-yard run against an unsuspecting Raiders front and suddenly the urgency increased. That drive ended with Stephen Gostkowski’s 62-yard field goal and for all intents and purposes ended the game. Had Lewis been stuffed on the play, it’s likely the Patriots would have simply let the clock wind down and head to the locker room. Read
When the Patriots passed:
The Oakland secondary entered the game with a host of negative statistics describing their play. After watching the group in action it’s easy to see why. Tom Brady did what he always does to Jack Del Rio defenses – he lit it up. Brady completed 30 of 37 passes for 339 yards and three touchdowns. He connected twice with Brandin Cooks deep, first for 52 yards and then for a 64-yard touchdown. Both times he raced through the Raiders secondary with ease. Brady also used his trusted underneath weapons, hitting Danny Amendola eight times for 66 yards and a touchdown and Lewis and Burkhead four times each. Lewis turned in a terrific 15-yard touchdown catch to open the scoring, and despite the presence of backups Ted Karras (for David Andrews), LaAdrian Waddle (for Marcus Cannon) and Cam Fleming (for Waddle), the Raiders barely applied any pressure. Brady was sacked just once and wasn’t forced to move much in the pocket. It was a vintage Brady performance, his second straight as he appears to have come out of the bye week rested and ready to wreak havoc. Read
When the Raiders ran:
For the second week in a row the Patriots patchwork front seven had trouble stopping the run but the game situation aided the cause by preventing the opponent from sticking with it. Marshawn Lynch has been ineffective in his return from retirement but he was gashing the Patriots in the first half. He finished with 67 yards on just 11 carries for a healthy 6.1-yard average. He ripped off a 25-yard run in the second quarter and consistently moved the pile in short-yardage situations as well. Jalen Richard added 19 yards on just four attempts, and in all Oakland picked up 109 yards on the ground on 21 carries with 18 of those attempts resulting in efficient runs (4 yards or more, first down, TD). Malcom Brown (ankle) once again was out of the lineup and it showed as Lynch did much of his damage between the tackles as Deatrich Wise and Adam Butler took reps on the interior. The score prevented Oakland from sticking with it, but the Patriots inability to stop the run could be an issue down the road against a team that doesn’t fall into an immediate hole. Read
When the Raiders passed:
Derek Carr was not overly sharp in this game but he certainly deserved a better fate than he received. He completed 28 of 49 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown. He also had an interception on a deep ball that bounced off receiver Johnny Holton’s shoulder into the arms of Duron Harmon, eliminating the chance for a big play. Seth Roberts also had a pair of drops, including one on an early third down that would have extended the opening drive. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree had problems holding onto the ball as well, finishing with nine catches for 79 yards combined. Stephon Gilmore took Crabtree while Malcolm Butler handled Cooper and neither Raiders receiver made an impact. Jared Cook had a couple of catches for 36 yards but he was held largely in check by Patrick Chung. The Patriots secondary was once again in the right places more often than not even if they did benefit from some sloppy play by their opponent. Read
Unlike a week earlier in Denver when the Patriots dominated the kicking game with a variety of plays, Sunday’s effort was keyed by Gostkowski. He took advantage of the thin air of Mexico City and set a franchise record with a 62-yard field goal, and he added kicks of 51, 40 and 29 yards to go with it. His kickoffs sailed through the end zone for touchbacks on six of his seven attempts. Ryan Allen didn’t get much work but averaged 47.5 yards and saw both of his punts downed inside the 20. Nothing much to report either way in the return game, but it was the remarkable work by Gostkowski that allowed the Patriots to enjoy another solid afternoon on special teams.