Week three of the 2014 season had the Oakland Raiders heading to the eastern time zone again to take on the New England Patriots. The Raiders were coming off a dreadful 30-14 loss to the Houston Texans and the Patriots were coming off a good 30-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings. New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski kicked the ball through the end zone and the Raiders would start at their 20-yard line. Some tough running by running back Darren McFadden and short completions to wide receiver Denarius Moore and tight end Mychal Rivera got them to their 40. But on third and five, the Patriots stepped up the pressure and quarterback Derek Carr’s pass to Moore fell incomplete. Punter Marquette King got off a 42-yard punt that was fair caught at the New England 18-yard line by return man/wide receiver Julian Edelman.
Quarterback Tom Brady led the offense onto the field but they would be making a quick exit as they only gained four yards on their first possession. Punter Ryan Allen got off a good punt that went 58 yards. It was fielded by return man TJ Carrie at the 20 and he returned it to the 37. However, there was a flag thrown for an illegal block and that moved the Raiders back to their 19. From the 19, Carr completed a nine-yard pass to Marcel Reece and that was followed by a seven-yard run by Reece for a first down at the 35. From there, Carr found tight end Brian Leonhardt for seven yards and that was followed by a four-yard run by McFadden. Another run by McFadden and completions to wide receiver Rod Streater put the Raiders at the New England 27. They would go no farther and kicker Sebastian Janikowski was called on for a 49-yard field goal attempt. The kick was good and the Raiders led 3-0 with 4:37 to go in the first quarter.
The Patriots started at their 20 and some good running by running back Shane Vereen got them rolling. On first down from the 30, Vereen ran up the middle for a gain of 11 and a first down at the 41. But a holding penalty moved them back ten yards and they failed to get another first down. Allen hit another good punt and the Raiders took over at their 18-yard line. The Raiders continued to slowly move the ball with short passes and runs up the middle by McFadden. On third and seven from the 31, Carr found Streater for a gain of 14 yards and a first down at the 45. But after that, they went nowhere. To make it worse, Streater left the game and reappeared a little later on crutches. He is out with a fractured foot. King punted and the Patriots got the ball back at their 16-yard line.
From the 16, Brady found Edelman for a gain of 12. Running back Stevan Ridley ran up the left side for six yards and Edelman caught two more passes to move into Oakland territory. On third and eight from the Oakland 45, Brady found Vereen for a gain of nine and a first down at the 36. A short run by Ridley and a pass interference penalty on the Raiders put the Patriots at the 14. Ridley was stuffed for a loss of one on first down, but Brady found Edelman again for a gain of six and the drive was capped off by tight end Rob Gronkowski catching a six-yard touchdown pass. Gostkowski made the point after and the Patriots led 7-3 with 4:14 to go in the first half.
The Raiders went nowhere on their next possession and that was bad. But what made it worse was King punting the ball only 22 yards. That gave the Patriots the ball at the 50-yard line with 2:45 remaining. A short run by Ridley was followed by yet another completion to Edelman. This one was for ten yards and a first down at the Oakland 38. From the 38, Brady found Gronkowski for 16 yards. A short completion to Edelman set up a second and six from the nine. Ridley got the call again and ran for six yards and a first down at the three-yard line. The Raider defense stiffened as the Patriots tried to get across the goal line. On third down, the snap was low and Brady couldn’t handle it. He regained control of the ball and threw an incomplete pass intended for Vereen. Gostkowski came on and his 21-yard field goal attempt was good. That put the Patriots up 10-3 at halftime.
The Patriots started the second half at their 20 and went nowhere. A false start penalty moved them back five yards and Brady was sacked by defensive end Justin Tuck on third and long. Ryan punted and Carrie fielded it at his 45 and returned it seven yards to the New England 48-yard line. They continued to run McFadden up the middle and he was gaining about three yards per carry. On third and three from the 41, we finally had a James Jones sighting. He caught a pass for a gain of 12 and a first down at the 29. A holding penalty on the Patriots got the Raiders down to the 24. But on third and five from the 19, Carr’s pass intended for Moore was incomplete. Janikowksi was brought into the game again and his 37-yard field goal attempt was good. With 9:39 to go in the third quarter, the Raiders trailed 10-6.
The Patriots started at their 20 and another false start penalty moved them back to the 15. From there, Brady found wide receiver Brandon LaFell for a gain of 15 and a first down at the 30. After a short run by Vereen, guess who caught two more passes? Yes. That’s right. It was Edelman. Who else would it be? But that wasn’t enough to get them into field goal range and Ryan punted again. The Raiders took over at their 14-yard line.
A short run by McFadden was followed by a 12-yard reception by Reece. On second and ten from the 28, Carr went deep up the left side for wide receiver Andre Holmes. The play was good for 29 yards and a first down at the New England 37. Carr went deep on the next play for Reece, but the ball was under-thrown and fell incomplete. If he had thrown the ball on the money, it most likely would have been a touchdown. A false start moved them back five yards and on third and 15 from the 42, Carr found Jones across the middle for a gain of 13 yards. They called on Janikowski again and his 47-yard field goal attempt was good. With 2:21 to go in the third quarter, the Raiders trailed 10-9.
Instead of kicking the ball deep, Janikowksi hit a short kick up the left sideline that was fielded by wide receiver Matthew Slater. He returned it 26 yards and the Patriots had good field position at their 41. From the 41, Brady found tight end Tim Wright for 20 yards and just like that, they were already in Oakland territory. Ridley was stuffed for a loss of one on first down, but Brady was able to complete a 16-yard pass to wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins. That gave them a first down at the 24. The Raiders were flagged for an offside penalty and Ridley and running back Brandon Bolden each had a carry to set up a third and three at the 12. Edelman caught another pass and was dragged down at the two-yard line. But they would get no further and they had to settle for another field goal attempt. Gostkowski had no problem with his 20-yard attempt and the Patriots increased their lead to 13-9 with 13:42 to go in the game.
The Raiders went nowhere on their next possession and punted the ball right back to the Patriots. They started at their 19-yard line and Brady quickly found Edelman for a gain of 15 yards. Ridley ran up the right side for five yards and Brady found Edelman again for a gain of six. However, the ruling of a completed pass was challenged by the Raiders. It was ruled incomplete and that set up a third and five from the 39. Brady completed a 19-yard pass to wide receiver Danny Amendola, but it was nullified by an offensive pass interference penalty on LaFell. That made it and 15. You know what? It wouldn’t matter if it was third and 50. Sure enough, Brady completed another pass. This time it was to Gronkowski for a gain of 22. That was an absolute killer for the Raiders. Just like the previous two games, they couldn’t stop their opponent on third and long situations. Brady moved the offense down to the Oakland 20 with completions to LaFell and Vereen. But the drive stalled at the 18. Gostkowski came into the game again and his 36-yard field goal attempt was good. That made it 16-9 with 6:20 to go in the game.
The Raiders gained one yard on their next possession and punted again. The Patriots followed suit as Brady was sacked by defensive linemen C.J. Wilson and Antonio Smith for a loss of eight yards. Allen punted and it was fielded at the Oakland 17 by Carrie. He returned it 21 yards to the 38 and the Raiders had one more chance to tie the game up. Two runs by McFadden and an 18-yard pass to Jones put the Raiders at the New England 33 with two minutes to go. On third and seven from the 30, Carr went deep for Holmes. The pass was incomplete, but the Patriots were flagged for pass interference. That put the Raiders at the six-yard line. From the six, McFadden ran up the left side for a touchdown. Immediately after he crossed the goal line, a yellow flag appeared. Rookie guard Gabe Jackson was flagged for holding. REALLY? THAT was holding? Unbelievable. That penalty moved them back to the 12 and from there, all hell broke loose. Carr fired a pass to Moore that hit him in right in the hands. He couldn’t hang on to it and the ball bounced into the hands of defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. And that was it. Just like that, the game was over. Final score: Patriots 16 Raiders 9.
For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 21 of 34 for 174 yards and one interception that most certainly was not his fault. James Jones and Rod Streater tied for the lead in receptions with three each and Jones had the most receiving yards with 43. The ground game was anemic again as the Raiders rushed for a grand total of 67 yards on 22 carries. Darren McFadden led the team with 59 yards on 18 carries. Defensively, safety Tyvon Branch led the team in solo tackles with seven. We won’t be seeing Mr. Branch for a while. He left the game with a broken foot.
For the Patriots, Tom Brady completed 24 of 37 for 234 yards and one touchdown. Julian Edelman led all receivers in receptions with ten and receiving yards with 84. Like the Raiders, the Patriots didn’t have much room to run. As a team, they rushed for 76 yards on 32 carries. Stevan Ridley led the way with 54 yards on 19 carries. Defensively, linebackers Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower tied for the lead in solo tackles with three apiece.
That loss dropped the Raiders to 0-3. For the most part, I liked what I saw from the defense as they played well overall. One problem that still remains is third down situations. The Patriots converted 9 of 18 and that kept many drives alive. On offense, the play calling is still very unimaginative. Although it was good to see Reece get more involved. Carr also needs to put more velocity on his deep throws. There have been many situations where receivers were open deep but Carr hung up his throws and that allows defenders to catch up to the play and knock the ball away. I guess this whole thing is what is known as “work in progress.” But I can speak for all the Raider fans when I say WE ARE SICK OF LOSING!!! Up next is a trip to England to take on the Miami Dolphins. That should be interesting. Until then, take it easy.
The Raider Guy