The Patriots got an overwhelming performance from their ground game on the way to a 36-20 win over the Raiders Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Sony Michel had nine carries for 117 rushing yards, while Rex Burkhead added six carries for 49 yards (and a pair of touchdowns) and seven catches on 10 targets for 49 yards and a receiving touchdown. Rookie J.J. Taylor chipped in with 11 carries for 43 yards for New England.
It wasn’t easy in the early going for the Patriots: After a narrow first half that included a late Las Vegas score to make it 13-10 at halftime, New England dominated the second half, outscoring the Raiders 23-3 in the third and into the fourth quarter to turn a close game into a blowout.
Newton finished 17-for-28 for 162 yards with one touchdown and one interception for the Patriots (2-1).
After a back-and-forth stretch in the first quarter, New England took the lead for good on Nick Folk’s second field goal of the day, a 23-yarder, to make it 6-3. The two teams traded late touchdowns (including Burkhead’s first of the day) just before the end of the first half to make it 13-10 at the break.
But from that point on, it was almost all Patriots. Burkhead added touchdowns in the third and fourth quarter, there was another field goal from Folk, and Deatrich Wise added a sack and a score to make it 36-13, New England. A late touchdown from Las Vegas with less than two minutes to go finished things.
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Here’s how the game unfolded:
4:17 p.m.: That’ll do it -- Patriots win, 36-20.
4:11 p.m.: The Raiders cut the lead to 36-20 with just under two minutes to go. But New England was really willing to trade points for clock at this point.
4:01 p.m.: Wise, Winvoch and Calhoun all in on that pressure, and after extended conference, they went ahead and gave the Patriots a touchdown. This has been a weird game, but at this point, New England has pretty much put a stamp on this one. After the extra point, it’s 36-13 with 5:10 to go.
3:54 p.m.: Burkhead has six carries for 49 yards and a pair of touchdowns, to go with seven catches (on 10 targets) for 49 yards and a receiving touchdown. It’s 29-13 with 5:13 to go.
3:50 p.m.: That’s the third touchdown of the day for Burkhead, who -- along with Taylor and Michel -- has been an excellent piece of the puzzle for the Patriots' running game. Provided New England wins this thing, it’ll be a triumph that came on the shoulders of the New England ground attack. A really impressive outing, particularly over the course of the second half. It’s 29-13 -- after the missed extra point -- with 5:17 left.
3:46 p.m.: Love the way this drive has developed. Good, smart sequence from a team that needed to stay aggressive and kill the clock. On a day where the Patriots were thin at a couple of positions -- running back and offensive line -- Josh McDaniels has done well to scheme and adjust here as things have progressed.
3:38 p.m.: Daniel Carlson rebounds from his earlier miss with a successful 25-yard field goal. Tough to argue with much of what the Patriots' defense did on that sequence -- namely, keeping the Raiders out of the end zone. That tip by Devin McCourty would have been nice to come away with, but the way things are going right now, to hold Vegas to a three-or-less is a good thing, especially with the way the running game is executing. It’s 23-13 with 11:22 to play -- I’d expect some run-heavy sets the rest of the way for New England.
3:30 p.m.: No third-down conversions, no catches from Waller, and two turnovers for Las Vegas as we start the fourth quarter.
3:28 p.m.: That’s the end of the third quarter: New England up. 23-10. The Raiders are driving, but a stop here will go a long way toward closing the door on Vegas this afternoon.
3:25 p.m.: Sony Michel with 112 rushing yards. Tied for the third most productive day of his career. (His best is 133 yards in 2018 vs. the Jets.) The 32-yarder for Folk is good, and it’s 23-10 with 1:28 left in the third quarter.
3:21 p.m.: This is the running game we thought we’d see. Great big run there by Michel off the left side -- a 48-yarder. The ground game is working, as Michel is now over 100 yards for the first time all year.
3:12 p.m.: Speaking of Burkhead, he plunges in for another one, making it 20-10 with 6:41 left in the third quarter. Burkhead just brings an added dynamic to this backfield -- he doesn’t run like an elite back and doesn’t make the sort of things happen in the passing game that James White necessarily does. But when he’s healthy, he can paper over a lot of deficiencies. No White and no Harris? Give it to Rex. So far, he has 33 rushing yards and one rushing TD, as well as five catches for 32 yards and a receiving touchdown.
3:06 p.m.: Good 38-yard pickup by Michel there. He’s over 60 yards on the ground for the afternoon.
3:05 p.m.: It’s been a tough go so far for the offense, but I’ve been impressed by the role of Rex Burkhead. Basically doing a lot of the things that James White is traditionally been asked to do, he has two carries for 24 yards and four catches for 17 yards and a touchdown. It’s not perfect, but on a day where things have been inconsistent, it’s been good enough to separate him from the rest of the pack offensively.
3:02 p.m.: The 41-yard attempt was no good from Daniel Carlson. Patriots dodge a bullet there, and it stays 13-10 with 12:16 to go in the third quarter.
3:01 p.m.: Raiders now 0-for-4 on third down. More good pressure by Winovich.
2:59 p.m.: Nice start here for the Vegas offense, as Carr has maneuvered them into New England territory, thanks in part to an ill-timed penalty on the part of Joejuan Williams on defending Waller and a 34-yard pickup on that pass to Edwards. Defense has to right the ship here, especially after that gruesome first-half finish.
2:40 p.m.: We’re at the half in Foxborough, and the Patriots have a 13-10 lead.
Cam Newton: 10-for-19, 90 yards, one TD, one INT
Taylor: 8 carries, 36 yards
Byrd: 2 catches, 28 yards
Here are a few quick notes on the first two quarters:
•The end of the half had an ugly breakdown for the New England defense — after a nice drive from New England that ended with a touchdown pass to Rex Burkhead and a 13-3 lead, Derek Carr and the Raiders put together an impressive drive with less than a minute to go that ended with a Foster Moreau touchdown. It was terrific execution on the part of the Raiders, but it’s also the sort of sequence that could really come back to haunt the Patriots if this is a close one.
•To that point, it had been a (mostly) good second quarter for New England. In the early going, the Raiders appeared to make a concerted effort in the early going to shut down the running game inside. That, and the fact the Patriots were working with a patched together offensive line (Thuney at center, Onwenu in his old spot at guard) were the likely cause of some ineffectiveness on the ground on the first quarter-plus. The Patriots also did a poor job taking advantage of some opportunities in the early going, as the Raiders committed a penalty on a punt which gave the ball back to New England, and also turned the ball over on a fumble. (They also gave away the ball on a Newton interception, which resulted in a Las Vegas field goal.)
•But some personnel tweaks — including the use of J.J. Taylor — and some nice work on first and second down meant a more productive second quarter for the Patriots on the offensive side of the ball. Loved the use of Taylor in the second quarter. The Mack Herron-lookalike provided a bit of a jump start for the New England offense when the group was spinning its collective wheels. Taylor did well finding some daylight among the big guys inside, as well as bouncing outside. All in all, the Patriots' offense had a really strong finish to the half with some of their best work of the day at the end of the second quarter, when they finished an 86-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Burkhead to make it 13-3.
•Adrian Phillips is getting it done. He forced the fumble in the early going, and then, made that nice third-down tackle on Carr midway through the second quarter to force a punt. Good start for the veteran, who has been a nice addition for this defense. Chase Winovich also had good sustained pressure on Carr throughout the first two quarter, a sequence that included a six-yard sack.
•Darren Waller had 12 catches on 16 targets Monday against the Saints. In the first half Sunday, he was shut out.
•Good half for the special teams. Kick and punt coverage has been good early, and a pair of field goals from Nick Folk (23 and 33 yards) and a successful extra point have given New England some sort of offensive production.
•The Raiders get the ball to start the second half.
2:36 p.m.: Just an inexcusable sequence there for the Patriots. The Raiders went 75 yards on four plays, and took 28 seconds. That 1-yard touchdown pass cut the lead to 13-10 with six seconds left. It was terrific execution on the part of the Raiders, but that’s the sort of sequence that could really come back to haunt the Patriots this afternoon.
2:30 p.m.: Something crazy happened. Carr and Renfrow connected on a nice pass play with seven seconds left in the half. Ugly breakdown on the Patriots.
2:25 p.m.: Really good finish there from the Patriots on that 86-yard drive, one that culminated with a Rex Burkhead touchdown catch. It’s 13-3 with 34 seconds left in the first half. After a sluggish start where they had problems taking advantage of gifts -- and some execution issues -- they have turned things around. If nothing crazy happens here, they’ll take a 13-3 lead into the locker room.
2:16 p.m.: Nice flip of the script here by the Patriots' offense. After the Raiders stopped the inside game, it appears New England has pivoted a bit and made some personnel changes. That, as well as an increase ability to execute, have meant a nice couple of drives here in the second quarter. New England is on the move -- it has a 6-3 lead, and is near midfield with two minutes to go in the first half.
2:10 p.m.: Adrian Phillips getting it done. He forced the fumble in the early going, and then, made that nice third-down tackle on Carr there to force the punt. Good start for the veteran, who has been a nice addition for this defense. There’s 5:38 to go in the first half, and if New England can put together a nice, sustained drive here and take a 13-3 lead, this game will have a different complexion late in the second quarter than it did in the early going.
2:04 p.m.: A 23-yarder from Folk makes it 6-3, giving New England its' first lead of the afternoon. Good to get some points off that turnover there, even if it was only three. Even with Taylor providing a spark for the Patriots' offense -- he has 37 rushing yards on seven carries -- it still feels like we’re in a bit of a slog here midway through the second quarter.
1:59 p.m.: Keep giving Taylor the ball. Love to see that -- he’s done well finding daylight and using his blockers, and shown a nice knack when it comes to him getting outside. He has seven carries for 37 yards so far.
1:54 p.m.: Patriots get the ball back after a nice pressure from Chase Winovich.
There's a reason his name isn't Chase Loseovich!— Nora Princiotti (@NoraPrinciotti) September 27, 2020
1:50 p.m.: The way things have gone for New England for the first quarter-plus, a 33-yarder from Folk represents a positive. You would have liked a touchdown for the lead, but a three-all tie with 12:32 left in the first half is a decent place to be given how occasionally sloppy things have been for the Patriots. Love the idea of Taylor providing a jump start for the offense -- if he can continue to make things happen on first and second down, I’d continue to get him the ball. Now, can the defense get a stop and get the ball back for New England?
1:45 p.m.: Good sequence here for J.J. Taylor, who has given the New England offense a spark. The mighty-mite now has three carries for 17 yards as the Patriots' offense has started to move.
1:38 p.m.: Given the way things have gone so far, holding Vegas to a field goal feels like a big win for New England. The first quarter is coming to an end, and the Patriots really should be happy they are only down 3-0. They have turned the ball over deep in their own end, struggled to get any real offensive rhythm, and could take advantage of two calls that went their way. We’ll see if things change for them on this possession, but so far, this is a real change from their strong starts against the Seahawks and Dolphins.
1:34 p.m.: The Patriots can’t seem to get out of their own way so far. Cam manages to keep the play alive nicely there, but Johnathan Abraham picks him off deep in New England territory. Just a shoddy start for New England this afternoon.
1:33 p.m.: Throwing into triple coverage is rarely successful.
1:30 p.m.: Big play there by the New England defense to step up and force the fumble as the Vegas offense has really started to develop a nice rhythm. Not sure who made the play, but it looked like Adrian Phillips was in on the initial hit that jarred the ball loose. Again, it appears the Patriots have been given a gift -- let’s see what they’re able to do with it.
1:24 p.m.: Patriots take a timeout rather than risk a too-many-men-on-the-field penalty. Not a great start all the way around for New England as the Raiders are at midfield.
1:19 p.m.: Can’t help but think James White could get this offense unstuck here in the early going. Back-to-back three-and-outs for New England means the Raiders get the ball back with 7:42 to go in the first quarter. So far, not much to write home about on either side of the ball for either team.
1:16 p.m.: Patriots get a break there when Crosby jumps on the punt play, and New England keeps the ball. Let’s see if the Patriots can take advantage. The first first-down of the game for the Patriots.
1:11 p.m.: Of course, the Las Vegas offensive line is also banged up and missing some key personnel in Incognito and old friend Trent Brown. Saw some of those weaknesses on that first series for the Raiders. Anyway, there’s 11:56 to go in the first quarter and we are scoreless.
1:07 p.m.: Patriots go 3-and-out after the misfire to Edelman. Going to be interesting to see how the offensive line holds up all afternoon with Thuney at center and Onwenu in his old spot at guard.
1:04 p.m.: Joe Thuney opens at center for the Patriots. His first snap at the position.
1:01 p.m.: Raiders win the toss and defer. Patriots open with the ball. Time for the foosball!
12:55 p.m.: You guys like the Patriots in single digits today. We’ll see.
12:40 p.m.: Like I said previously, I think New England covers this week for a few reasons, and the Patriots and Raiders hit the over. I’m going to say New England 34, Las Vegas 24. Good week for Newton and the offense, and while the Patriots' defense has a few issues in coverage against Waller, that group will be solid enough to get the job done against Derek Carr and the Raiders' offense.
12:35 p.m.: Interesting. If there’s one guy on that offensive line who can make that change -- even though he didn’t play center in college -- it’s probably Thuney.
Joe Thuney taking snaps at center in warmups and rookie Mike Onwenu at left guard— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) September 27, 2020
12:34 p.m.: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo and Track Wolfson on the call this afternoon for CBS. Overall, since start of 2017 season (including the playoffs), New England is 16-4 with them in attendance.
12:30 p.m.: Looks like it’s going to be cloudy with a slight chance of precipitation this afternoon in Foxborough, with temps in the low 70s. Good football weather.
12:25 p.m.: A few stats to keep in mind heading into this afternoon’s game:
• Cam Newton needs 1 yard rushing to move past Randall Cunningham into second place in NFL history for QB rush yards.
• Newton has rushed for multiple touchdowns in each of the first two games this season. The Patriots single-season record for consecutive games with two-plus rushing touchdowns is three by Horace Ivory (1978) and Curtis Martin (1995). The most recent instances of multiple rushing touchdowns in three consecutive games came from Pittsburgh RB James Conner (3) and former L.A. Rams RB Todd Gurley (3) in 2018.
• No NFL QB has rushed for multiple touchdowns in three consecutive games. The NFL record for most multiple-rush TD games overall in a single season by a QB is three by five players, including Cam Newton in 2011.
• Newton has 26 rushing attempts so far in 2020 (15 vs. Miami and 11 at Seattle) and is on pace for 208 rushing attempts. The NFL record for most rushing attempts by an NFL quarterback is 176 in 2019 by Lamar Jackson. Cam Newton’s highest was 139 rushing attempts in 2017.
12:15 p.m.: For the Raiders, tight end Darren Waller (knee) and running back Josh Jacobs (hip) are active.
12:01 p.m.: Something we haven’t talked about yet is losing David Andrews to the hand injury for the next (at least) three weeks. I’m a well-known Andrews’ apologist, but even his biggest critic has to agree that this one is a toughie. The Patriots recalled James Ferentz from the practice squad, and he’s expected to get the bulk of the work. He’s not awful, but he’s no Andrews. On and off the field, Andrews is a giant for this franchise. From a practical, game-planning perspective, it’s something that bears watching. If I’m Jon Gruden, I attack New England straight up the gut this week and try and get pressure on the middle of that line. Ferentz will get help from Mason and Thuney, but having him sidelined is a big loss going forward.
12:00 p.m.: Newton and his production team have their hype video for Week 3.
Cam Newton's weapons vs. Raiders:— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) September 27, 2020
WR: Edelman, Harry, Byrd, Meyers
RB: Michel, Burkhead, Taylor
TE: Izzo, Asiasi
11:50 a.m.: I’ve seen this game as anywhere between a 5- and a 6.5-point spread over the course of the week, and I think that when it comes to those totals, the Patriots are going to cover. The Raiders have been fun to watch and more than a little competitive, but I think they’ll take their first L this afternoon for a few reasons, not the least of which is the fact that when West Coast teams come East to play a one o’clock game, it almost always ends badly for them. But to get back to my original point -- the Patriots win and cover. I’d also just barely take the over, which is set at 47 (according to our pals at Odds Shark). I’ll get you a final score prediction shortly.
11:40 a.m.: Ben has arrived:
11:38 a.m.: The Patriots' list of inactives is out. Here’s who will be sitting and what it means:
Running back James White: White, who was out last week following the tragic death of his father in a car crash, did not practice this week. There are a few possibilities when it comes to who might get some extra work in White’s absence, the feeling here is — like last week — Rex Burkhead will get some more reps.
Offensive tackle Korey Cunningham: Inactive for the third consecutive week. He wasn’t on the injury report this week, so we’ll assume that it’s a personnel question. I’m still not sold on their tackle depth, but they have played pretty well at the position for the first two weeks of the season.
Defensive back Myles Bryant: Another healthy scratch:
Quarterback Jarrett Stidham: A third straight inactive for the young signal-caller. Brian Hoyer will serve as the backup to Cam Newton.
Tight end Dalton Keene: He was on and off the injury report because of a neck issue last week, but he’s going to miss his third straight game to start the season after not being on the injury report this past week.
Outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings: Not on the injury report all week, it appears that the rookie is a healthy scratch.
11:18 a.m.: Trying to stress just how important this game really is for New England: it’s certainly a winnable contest, and in a season where you have a diminished margin for error when compared to past years, a September victory is always an important thing. But the fact the Patriots are starting a rough stretch after this week really underscores the importance of coming out of this game with a W: the next six weeks, New England is at KC, home vs. Denver, bye, home vs. SF, at Buffalo and at the New York Jets. Games against the two teams that were in the Super Bowl last year and a road game against the team that will be their toughest competition in the AFC East. (Not for nothing, but after that, there are games against the Ravens and Texans, a pair of playoff teams that beat them last year.) The very definition of a rough road ahead. Tucking a win away today would provide a nice bounce heading into the toughest stretch of the season.
11:00 a.m.: Welcome to Week 3 of the Patriots' 2020 season. After splitting the first two games, New England will be angling to start 2-1 when it faces the Raiders.
It might not be as nearly as compelling as some other Patriots-Raiders games over the years, but there’s still an awful lot at stake for both franchises. New England is looking to keep pace with the rest of the AFC leaders. (And come away with a win in a winnable game before the start of a very rough portion of the schedule.) As for the Las Vegas Raiders — that will always be strange — they’re looking to move to 3-0 on the season.
We’ll have all the usual pregame updates — inactive analysis (just after 11:30), weather updates, the latest betting news, and everything you need to know coming out of Foxborough. First? It’s a pregame reading list:
Christopher Price can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at cpriceglobe.