Ryan L. Fox
The people of New England were definitely feeling sleepless after the team’s heartbreaking loss in Seattle in Week 2. The team was stopped one yard short of a victory as many spent the past week debating what could have been, if it was the right call, and among other things (including coaching). This time around, the team welcomed in the up-and-coming Las Vegas Raiders (feels a little weird saying that).
But whether they’re called Las Vegas, Los Angeles, or Oakland, they were still the silver and black and they were an opponent not to take so likely. Regardless of how many Patriots fans and media felt about their opponent, the Patriots players and coaches knew that games are not won on paper but on the field. The two teams squared up in Foxborough for a Sunday matinee as when the final gun was sound, the team in silver and black ended up adding blue to their color scheme.
It was the Raiders who got the first points of the game late in the 1st quarter thanks to a 29-yard field goal by K Daniel Carson to make it 3-0 with 18 seconds left in the quarter. This came off an interception by SS Johnathan Abram, picking off an errand pass by Pats QB Cam Newton at the New England 38 and bringing it back the New England 14.
The Patriots responded with a long drive of their own in the 2nd quarter, getting into the Las Vegas redzone. However they ended up settling for a 33-yard field by K Nick Folk to tie the game at 3-3 with 12:32 left in the quarter.
Folk added another field goal later on, this time a 23-yard attempt, to make it 6-3 with 7:56 left in the 2nd quarter.
After forcing the Raiders to punt, the Patriots drove down the field on the Raiders. Instead of settling for a field goal in the redzone, Newton found RB Rex Burkhead on a quick pass over the right side for the 11-yard touchdown. Folk booted the PAT through to make it 13-3 with 34 seconds left in the game.
But with time winding down, Raiders QB Derek Carr quickly got the Raiders offense down the field (including be aided by a 28-yard defensive pass interference on Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore). They got down to the New England 1 where Carr found TE Foster Moreau for the 1-yard touchdown. Carlson booted the PAT through as both teams went into halftime with the score being 13-10.
The Raiders opened up the 2nd half with the ball as they drove down the field. However they had to settle for a 41-yard field goal attempt by Carlson. Carlson’s kick ended up going wide left, giving the Patriots decent field position at their own 31.
Cam drove the team down the field, getting down to the Las Vegas 5. From there, Burkhead burrowed his way over the goalline for the score as Folk’s PAT made it 20-10 with a little over 6:40 left in the quarter.
Folk booted his 3rd field goal of the game later on in the 3rd quarter to push the Patriots lead to 23-10.
The Raiders answered back with their own field goal as Carlson booted a 25-yard attempt through the uprights to make it 23-13 with 11:20 left in the 4th quarter.
After forcing another Raiders punt, the Patriots offense got the football and proceeded to just grind out the clock. After getting down in to the red zone and down to the Las Vegas 2, Burkhead was given the rock as he bowled his way over the goalline for his 2nd rushing touchdown of the day. Folk ended up missing the extra point but still, the Patriots’ lead went to 29-13 with 5:17 in the quarter.
A penalty on the ensuing kickoff on the Raiders backed them up to their own 11. On the first play of the drive, Carr dropped back to pass but ended up getting swarmed in the endzone by Patriots DE Deatrich Wise & rusher Shilique Calhoun got to Rivers in the endzone in what appeared to be a safety. But after review, officials reversed it saying that Carr lost the ball in the endzone and Wise recovered it for the touchdown. Folk booted the PAT through as the Patriots lead extend to 36-13 with 5:09 left in the 4th quarter.
With time running out, the Raiders tried one last gasp for a touchdown and some respect points.
Carr drove the team down the field, eating up some clock in the process. After the two-minute warning, Carr found WR Hunter Renfrow for a 13-yard touchdown. Carlson booted the PAT through the uprights to make it 36-20 with under 2 minutes left in the game.
The following onside kick was easily recovered by the Patriots as Cam had to kneel the ball down a couple of times to run the clock out.
The Patriots ended up winning on the final score of 36-20, giving the team a much needed victory to prevent them from possibly ending the month of September with a sub-.500 record.
Notable Patriots Players Statistical Standouts
QB Cam Newton - 17 for 28 for 162 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT for a QB Rating of 73.8, 9 carries for 27 yards (1.4 ypc)
RB Sony Michel - 9 carries for 117 yards (13.0 ypc)
RB Rex Burkhead – 6 carries for 49 yards (8.2 ypc) and 2 TDs, 7 catches (on 10 targets) for 49 yards and 1 TD
K Nick Folk – 3 for 3 on Field Goals, 3 for 4 on XP for a total of 12 points
DE Deatrich Wise – 4 tackles (3 solo, 1 assist), 0.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 defensive TD
LB/Edge Shilique Calhoun – 3 tackles (2 solo, 1 assist), 0.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles
CB J.C. Jackson – 6 tackles (6 solo, 0 assist), 1 fumble recovery, and 1 pass defended
CB Johnathan Jones – 8 tackles (5 solo, 3 assist) and 2 passes defended
What is Our Offensive Identity in 2020?
I feel like this is going to be the question that people are going to be asking about the Patriots’ offense this season. And it is not a ludicrous question to ask.
Are the 2020 New England Patriots going to be a run-oriented offense, a passing-oriented offense, or a balanced one? Let’s look at how we got to this point this regular season.
In Week 1 against the Dolphins, the Patriots ran 42 running plays for 217 yards (approximately 5.2 yards per carry) and had 3 touchdowns. In the same breath, they only had 21 passing plays for a total of 140 net passing yards (approximately 6.7 yards per passing play).
Then in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks, the script ended up being reversed. This time around, the Patriots ran 25 running plays for 67 yards (approximately 2.7 yards per rushing play) and had 2 touchdowns. But when it came to the passing game, they ran 45 passing plays for a total of 397 net passing yards (approximately 8.8 yards per passing play) for 1 touchdown.
In their Week 3 match up against the Raiders, the Patriots had a somewhat balanced offense. They ran 38 running plays for 250 yards (approximately 6.6 yards per rushing play) and 2 TDs while running 30 passing plays for a net total of 156 yards (approximately 5.2 yards per pass play) and 1 TD.
Even though it was a little bit of a balance on offense, it marked the 2nd time out of the past 3 weeks where the Patriots ran 35+ rushing plays in a single game. So does this mean that the team is going to be a run-oriented team for the remainder of the season? Like are they using the pass to set up the run?
It kinda feels that it’s trending that way…until the team decides to run 40+ passing plays in a single game (probably the likely scenario against the Chiefs in Week 4).
If that’s the case, then I got only one identity for this offense: the ‘non-identity’ offense. The ‘we’re going to play our game our way’ offense. The ‘*snort* *throat-clearing sound* we’re gonna run our offense how we see fit *insert laser Bill glare*’ offense.
Whatever offense shows up on Sunday (and at least 1 Monday night and 1 definite Thursday night), they better be on top of their game. Depending on who their opponent might be, it’ll be a little tricky to be a one-trick pony offense.
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
4 - The number of career multi-TD games Patriots RB Rex Burkhead has in his career
.750 – The winning percentage of west coast teams traveling to play 1:00 p.m. EST games on the east coast this season (6-2)
.778 – The winning percentage of west coast teams traveling to play 1:00 p.m. EST games on the east coast since 2019 (21-6)
9 - The number of non-offensive touchdowns the Patriots have since 2019 (7 in 2019, 2 in 2020), which is the most in the NFL during that stretch
38 -The number of running plays the team ran this week, marking the 2nd time in 2020 that the Patriots ran 35+ rushing plays in a single game
250 – The number of rushing yards by the Patriots in the game, the most since 2018 when they rushed for 273 yards against the Buffalo Bills at home in Week 16
.981 – The winning percentage of the Patriots when they have a 100+ yard rusher since 2000 (53-1)
4,955 – The career rushing yards for Patriots QB Cam Newton, putting him 2nd all-time among NFL QBs
Useless Trivia that Only Football Nuts Will Appreciate
Did you know that this was the first time in NFL that a game featured two head coaches that were traded.
Yup, both Bill Belichick of the Patriots and Jon Gruden of the Raiders were each traded from their respective teams in the past.
For Bill, he was traded from the Jets to the Patriots in 2000. The terms of the trade was as followed: Patriots sent their 1st-round pick in the NFL 2000 draft in exchange for the right to hire him from the Jets.
For Gruden, he was traded from the then Oakland Raiders to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002. The terms of the trade were as followed: Gruden would be sent to the Buccaneers and the Raiders would receive the Buccaneers’ 2002 and 2003 1st round picks in those years’ respective NFL drafts, 2002 and 2004 2nd round picks in those years’ respective NFL Drafts, and $8-million in cash.
And the rest they say is history.
Fox Fist Bump
This week’s Fox Fist Bump goes back to the entire Patriots running back crew.
Burkhead, Michel, and the rookie Taylor. All three of them stepped up and carried the team, especially Burkhead.
For Burkhead, he was pretty much playing the role of James White, who did not dress/play for the 2nd straight week due to personal issues. Burkhead was a dual scoring threat, getting 2 TDs on the ground and catching 1 touchdown.
For Michel, he got his first 100+ yard rushing game since his rookie year in 2018. Although he got less than 10 touches for the game (9 to be exact), he ran all over the Raiders to the tune of 117 yards. This also included a 48-yard burst up the left side in the 2nd half.
Then with the rookie J.J. Taylor, he may be smaller than your ideal running back (5’6’’ and 185lbs when wet), but he runs hard and he runs fast. Taylor was able to keep churning and squirming his way for yardage every time he ran the ball, showing some fight that the team can rally behind.
I expect this group to continue to explode and continue to have good games for the remainder of the season or at least put up a fight for the offense.
The Meatball of the Game
There were no meatballs in this game. The entire team played a very thorough, clean(ish) game. There were some hiccups in the 1st half but nothing too overwhelming.
Play of the Game
Game, Set, TD
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