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Patriots pillage and plunder Raiders, 49-26

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It was wet and wild early and simply soggy late.

The New England Patriots kept pace in the AFC East with a 49-26 win over the Oakland Raiders in a rain-filled game that saw 49 points scored in the first half.

The Patriots charged out of the gate, posting a 35-14 first half lead and cruised the rest of the way. Matt Cassel had four touchdown passes, two of them going to Randy Moss in his return to the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum. Also in his return, Lamont Jordan ran for a late 49-yard touchdown to really snap the patch on the Raiders' eye.

In all, the Patriots had 277 rushing yards with Sammy Morris leading the way with 117 yards on 14 carries. Through the air, Cassel finished with 218 yards on 18 of 30 passing.

New England wasted no time taking the lead in this one, first holding Oakland to three plays on the opening series of the game and then going nine plays starting at the Raiders 40 to score with a Kevin Faulk 7 yard catch and run for a touchdown. Welker had two catches on the drive, an early 16-yarder and later one for 7 yards on third and 7.

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]()The Patriots immediately replicated the effort. The defense again held the Raiders to three plays, this time with Mike Vrabel strip sacking JaMarcus Russell on third down forcing a punt. New England took over at the Oakland 35 after Shane Lechler shanked an 18-yarder and took only three plays to score on a 20-yard Cassel to Moss pass. With 7:57 still remaining in the first quarter it was 14-0, New England.

The rout was on still in the first quarter when Morris carried for 29 yards to the Raiders end zone. This drive started at the New England 17 and took nine plays. To this point, just over three and half minutes still left in the first quarter, New England had 153 offensive yards to the Raiders 7.

That gap was somewhat closed on the Raiders next possession. On first and 10 from his own 44, Russell faced pressure but found a wide open Johnnie Lee Higgins streaking across the middle. Higgins outraced all Patriots for a 56-yard touchdown to get his team on the scoreboard.

New England made it four for four with Cassel hitting Wes Welker from 13 yards out to make the score 28-7 early in the second quarter. Welker also had a 30-yard catch two plays prior to the touchdown giving him 4 for 66 yards and on pace for another big game. He also eclipsed the 100-catch mark for the season, becoming only the eighth player in NFL history to have back-to-back such seasons.

One of the few Oakland strengths this season was their return game and it was on display on the ensuing kickoff. Justin Miller took Stephen Gostkowski's kick at his 7-yard line and went all the way for the Raiders second touchdown. Big plays were keeping the Raiders in the game.

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]()On the very next play, a big play gave New England its three-touchdown lead right back. Sebastian Janikowski kicked off and Ellis Hobbs took it up the right sideline, avoided Janikowski's tackle effort and went 95 yards for a 35-14 Patriots lead.

The Patriots looked on their way to adding to the lead when Cassel spotted Benjamin Watson around 20 yards downfield. The pass was a bit high and deflected off Watson's right hand. Gibril Wilson came up with the interception to give Oakland the ball on its 26.

After Russell hit Miller for 23 yards to the Patriots 32, it sure looked like Oakland would make some noise before the half. Two plays later, however, Russell badly underthrew Ashley Lelie near the end zone and Jonathan Wilhite picked him off, taking the return to the 17.

A Faulk run for 23 yards and catch for 12 took the ball to the Raiders 48 and the game to the two-minute warning.

A screen to Faulk went for 20 yards after the break, setting up New England for more points before the half. But with 11 seconds left, the Patriots were flagged for an illegal shift at the 14-yard line. The penalty required a 10-second run-off giving the Patriots one second to get off a field goal attempt. Strangely, when the whistle blew, Lonie Paxton failed to get the snap off and time ran out before the attempt could be made.

Cassel opened the second half with his fourth touchdown pass of the game, his personal career best. On the 7-play drive, Moss caught three passes, including the score, a 9-yard catch on third and goal from the 9. Morris went over the 100-yard rushing mark, also on this drive, with a 35-yard rush. With 11:36 left in the third quarter, he had 10 carries for 102 yards.

The Raiders got six points back with 5:01 left in the third quarter. Darren McFadden was the main reason with a catch for 24 yards and a run for 12 down to the Patriots 5-yard line. After a false start penalty on Oakland, Russell lofted a pass to Ronald Curry who came up with the catch in the end zone. Vince Wilfork blocked Janikowski's extra point attempt to make the score 42-20.

The Patriots added another touchdown with under seven minutes left in the game, a 49-yard dash by Jordan to put a final exclamation point on the Patriots dominant ground game.

McFadden ran for a touchdown with 1:58 left and the Raiders failed on their two-point try to make the final 49-26 score.

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