The Patriots running backs stole the show on Sunday, but they and their teammates made it clear after the game that they were playing for James White.
Last Sunday, White learned that his father, Tyrone White, was killed in a car accident that also left his mother, Lisa White, in critical condition. White was inactive against the Raiders to be with family, but before the game, the organization had a moment of silence in memory of Tyrone.
Though White was not with his teammates on Sunday, he was on their minds and in their hearts. After the game, several of his teammates said they played with him in mind and worked hard on the field in his honor.
"He's just unbelievable person, player and leader of this team. Him [being] away and of course the situation him and his family are going through, it's sad," Rex Burkhead said, fighting back tears. "We just try to go out there, we try to play for him. Give it our all. Try to focus on what we can. Of course, a bunch of guys reaching out to him, just hoping he's doing okay given his situation. It was rough. It was tough. He's a brother to me."
Fellow running back Sony Michel echoed that sentiment.
"I can speak for myself, thinking about him a lot, texting him, making sure he's good, staying high spirits. The rest of the backs I believe did the same thing. We all kind of came together and played hard," Michel said. "That's what James White do. He doesn't complain, he go to work every day. He's one of those guys that I'm sure you hear those things all the time, but it's who he is.
Julian Edelman said with White being the man and teammate he is, they wanted to fight for him the way they all know he would fight.
"One of our brothers is hurt. It puts a lot of things in perspective. With James White being the man he is – an outstanding guy on the field, in locker room, off the field – to go through what he's gone through this last week, our thoughts and prayers have been with him," Edelman said. "It did give us motivation to go out there and play for him because you know for a fact that the kind of guy that James White is, if something like that happened to one of us, he would do the same thing. It's been a tough, a real tough situation."
Matthew Slater said it is times like this that give perspective about life beyond football, and they are doing what they can to support White and his family from afar.
"We certainly were playing for James and not just James, his entire family. This has been a difficult week for all of us ... Certainly, for us as a team, it brings perspective," Slater said. "It brings perspective beyond the game of football and understanding that life is such a fragile thing and anything can happen at any point in time that totally changes your life, people you love changes their lives. We look forward to James getting back so we can just support him, put our arms around him and let him know that we love him."
Devin McCourty said his absence was felt in the locker room, but right now, his teammates need to step up for him and support him.
"When he's not here with us it's a loss of not having him in the locker room and you don't even think about the football aspect. You just think about him as a person, how he's doing," McCourty said. "I think you had a lot of guys checking in on him, just seeing how he's doing, not trying to overwhelm him but showing support and letting him know that we care and we're here for anything he needs. It was good to get a win I hope if he had some free time being able to watch guys go out there and compete. I'm sure he knows we're all playing with heavy hearts and playing for him."