After suffering their first loss of the season last week in Buffalo, the New England Patriots were able to bounce back today against the Oakland Raiders, winning 31-19. The Pats were able to outlast Oakland by being more balanced on offense and forcing the Raiders to throw more than they’d probably like to. While the Raiders brought a fierce rushing attack to the game, the Patriots were able to out-gain the Raiders on the ground 183-160 yards. The Patriots’ defense showed some improvement by keeping the Raiders to under 20 points, but still gave up a ton of yardage, including 344 passing yards to Jason Campbell. While the holes still exist and the secondary still looks porous, the defense was able to force 2 interceptions, including one by DT Vince Wilfork, his second of the season.
On the ground, the Pats held Darren McFadden to only 75 yards on 14 carries. Rookie Stevan Ridley was the star on the ground for the Patriots, running for 97 yards on 10 carries, including a 33-yard touchdown run. BenJarvus Green-Ellis contributed 75 yards on 16 carries and a TD. Tom Brady was held under 300 yards for the first time this season, going 16/30 for 226 yards and two touchdowns, no picks, and a QB rating of 100.1. Wes Welker again led the team in catches and receiving yards, making 9 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown. Chad Ochocinco caught both passes thrown his way for 26 yards.
The Raiders certainly helped the Patriots out with penalties, committing 9 penalties for 85 yards, including two big penalties (roughing the passer and facemask) by Richard Seymour on the Patriots’ opening drive of the game. Here are two key stats which I think sums up the Patriots’ play on defense: The Raiders 8-for-13 on 3rd down, which is a 62% conversion factor, but went 2-for-5 in the red zone, a 40% conversion factor. The Pats gave up yards and had trouble getting off the field until it was time to prevent the Raiders from putting points on the scoreboard.
The Pats host the New York Jets next week, which will be a pivotal divisional matchup. The defense will have to continue to improve if the Pats are to come out with a victory.