Well, that was ugly.
The Patriots were expected to obliterate the Raiders in this one, but in typical New England fashion, they made this game close. The offense struggled all game long, and if it weren’t for a very good performance from Vince Wilfork and the defense, they would have lost to the worst team in football.
Oakland dominated the first quarter from a possession standpoint, and while they only got three points out of it, I think they set the tone for the game. Derek Carr played pretty well for a rookie quarterback, as he didn’t make any big mistakes, and kept the Raiders in contention until the very end. Generally rookie signal callers don’t do very well against Bill Belichick-led defenses, so I wouldn’t be too disappointed if I were Carr fans.
The Pats’ defense played well, giving up 241 yards, only nine points, and they came up with a huge game-ending interception to end the game. Logan Ryan was burned all game long, but he made a nice play on the ball, which popped into the air, and big Vince Wilfork came up with his second career pick against Oakland.
Offensively, the Patriots were as bad as I can ever remember. They were constantly out of sync, and the passing offense was completely centered on Julian Edelman, when of course Tom Brady wasn’t getting hit.
We spent the entire week talking about Brady’s weapons, but neglected the biggest problem on this offense, the offensive line. If Brady is focused in on Edelman and Gronkowski, that is fine. They are terrific players, and will make plays all season long. However if Brady doesn’t have time to throw the football, this offense is going to be very bad.
With that said, on the Pats’ final drive of the game (not including kneel-downs), rookie Bryan Stork came into the game for Jordan Devey, and the offense really began to click. I think the Patriots are better off with Stork starting at center, and Dan Connolly at right guard. Hopefully that will give them something to work with going forward.
Overall, this was a very ugly game. New England averaged 4.2 yards a play on offense, and only scored one touchdown. Brady went down two times, and they only amassed 76 rushing yards against the worst run defense in the entire league.
But a win is a win. And as a famous Raider once said, “just win, baby”.