Raiders seemed to target Darrelle Revis
FOXBOROUGH — Some of Oakland’s completed passes came against zone coverage, and some came against man coverage. But this much was clear: The Raiders were not shy about challenging Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis on Sunday.
Rookie quarterback Derek Carr attempted six passes during the game to receivers who were being covered by Revis, the Patriots’ splashy offseason signing who is regarded by most as one of the best corners in the NFL, if not the best. Of those six passes, five were completed, for 63 yards. The last pass was the one that fell incomplete, and that came on the play immediately after the two-minute warning.
The Patriots escaped with a 16-9 home-opening victory, a game in which Revis was uncharacteristically busy. You almost could say he was targeted.
“I don’t know what their game plan is. I’ve got to go out there and execute,” Revis said. “It’s competition, that’s what it is. It was an ugly win for us as a team, but sometimes winning comes out of that, and we showed great character.”
Revis wasn’t matched up exclusively on one Raiders receiver, but he almost always sets up on the left side of the defense (when viewed from behind the Patriots). He didn’t give up any big gains, but Oakland went at the five-time Pro Bowler time and again. Revis was flagged once for defensive pass interference — the throw was intended for Andre Holmes, who had one catch for 29 yards — but the Raiders also had committed an infraction on the play (two, actually), and the penalties offset.
It was surprising to see so many balls thrown at Revis, though, who was asked where he feels his play is at three games into his first season with the Patriots.
“This is Week 3, right? I think I’m fine,” Revis said. “Today is over with. We won. That’s my focus. You go back to the drawing board and you make your corrections. It’s really not that serious. You go out there and compete. This is the NFL. Guys make plays. We all make plays.”
One that got away
Rob Gronkowski scored the only touchdown, a 6-yard catch in the second quarter. He almost grabbed a second touchdown but had the ball knocked away by 17-year NFL veteran Charles Woodson in the end zone on a second-and-goal play from the Oakland 12. It came on the third play of the fourth quarter.
“He made a nice play. He’s a great player. He is on season No. 17, so it’s cool to even be out there with him on the field,” Gronkowski said. “It went right in front of me and my eyes lit up. I went to grab it and tuck it in and it just came out. It’s one of those plays where you want to hit yourself in the head. I got to get those.”
Gronkowski finished with three catches (he was targeted six times) for 44 yards.
Dennard out again
Alfonzo Dennard missed his second straight game, designated by the team before kickoff as one of its seven inactives. Dennard was limited in practice with a shoulder injury, the same reason he was kept out of the Week 2 road game at Minnesota.
Receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson continued their weekly trade-off. Dobson was inactive in Week 1, with Thompkins sitting out Week 2. On Sunday it was once again Dobson’s turn, and Thompkins took advantage of his playing opportunity, catching the only ball thrown his way, for 16 yards.
The other five inactives were offensive linemen Ryan Wendell (knee) and Josh Kline, defensive lineman Zach Moore, safety Don Jones (mostly a special-teams contributor), and rookie running back James White, who has been inactive for all three games.
Those decisions meant that defensive lineman Michael Buchanan made his season debut. Buchanan played in all but one game last season as a rookie, when he had two sacks. He played on special teams against the Raiders.
Among the Raiders’ inactives was running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who had been limited in practice with a hand injury.
One week after committing 15 penalties for 163 yards — matching a franchise mark for number, and setting a record for distance — the Patriots had six accepted penalties for 59 yards.
“It was one of the best things we did today,” coach Bill Belichick said. “We had fewer penalties in all three phases of the game. That was certainly a positive. We need to play more that way.”
Raiders coach Dennis Allen didn’t give a yes or no answer, but he was asked if he would have chosen to go for a 2-point conversion if Darren McFadden’s touchdown wasn’t called back by a penalty with 59 seconds to go. The score would have made it 16-15, and a 2-point conversion then would have been to take the lead in the final minute.
“That thought went through my head,” Allen said, on whether sideline discussions were being held about going for 2. “It’s kind of a moot point now. You know what I mean? We would have done what we felt like we had to do to win.”