The Oakland Raiders gave the New England Patriots all they could handle and in the end it was the silver and black that stood in their own way. Don’t let the final score fool you. This was not a dominant Pats performance by any means.
In fact the Raiders held the ball longer than the Pats, converted over 60% of their third downs compared to 44% for New England and even gained over 500 yards of total offense against the Belichick bunch.
In the end it was the Raiders that would prove to be their own worst enemy.
Once again the ugly face of pointless penalties reared its ugly face. Richard Seymour might have been a little too fired up for his revenge as he kept the Pats’ first drive alive with two painful penalties. The first flag against Seymour was debatable as he was hit for a roughing call on a play that (by rule) never truly occurred. Since when did it matter what happens after an offense is flagged for a pre-snap penalty?
But that point became pointless once Seymour gave this former team more free yards thanks to a face mask.
From there out it was more of the same.
The Raiders moved the rock with ease on offense as they owned the porous Pats’ D.
Darren McFadden and Michael Bush ran though the chowder chumps like they weren’t even there. Once again Hue Jackson’s bully abused an opponent in physical fashion.
Still you can’t talk about this game without mentioning two key turnovers courtesy of Jason Campbell.
Until Sunday Campbell had played turnover-free football. That came to an inexplicable end at the worst time possible.
With the Raiders driving and once again poised to strike paydirt against the Pats JC committed the worst sin possible for a QB. He threw a pick in the end zone. Worst of all was that he was attempting to simply throw the ball away.
From here out I think it is safe to assume Campbell will make sure to throw the ball 50-yards out of bounds the next time he tosses one away. However today he floated one right to Patrick Chung.
Not putting this loss on Campbell’s shoulders but that pick proved costly.
Worst case scenario was that the Raiders would go into halftime trailing 14-13. Instead Campbell’s brain fart proved to be the turning point in the game.
The Pats kicked a field goal to take a 17-10 lead at the half and never looked back.
What is most troubling of all is that were it not for Wes Welker the Patriots would have had no offense to speak of.
Tom Brady had his worst offensive output of the season but thanks to Welker’s 9 grabs for 158 yards the New England passing game proved enough of a threat for the Raiders to respect.
Why Stanford Routt wasn’t shadowing Welker all afternoon long remains a mystery.
Another mystery is why the Raiders were good against the league’s best passing attack yet struggled to contain an (until today) impotent running game.
That old enemy of the Oakland defense chose a bad day to show its face. The toothless run defense that has plagued this team for a decade decided to show up again. While Welker was the only Pat to have 3 catches or more rookie runner Stevan Ridley racked up 97 yards on an embarrassing average of 9 yards a carry. Meanwhile the law firm known as BenJarvus Green-Ellis added another 75 yards. The two backs made it so Brady didn’t have to win the game for his team this time.
Instead the Pats could sit back and relax as 9 Raider penalties combined with two key turnovers spelled certain demise.
When Campbell throws for more than 100 yards than Brady the Raiders are supposed to win. But that is why they play the game.
Now, not all was bad for the Raiders. Darrius Heyward-Bey actually made a catch away from his body as he netted the second 100-yard effort of his career. But continuing with the theme of the day he dropped the easiest catch he’s seen all season on a crucial third down.
Kevin Boss showed some Zach Miller skill by grabbing 4 passes for 78 yards while also throwing plenty of punishing blocks. Run DMC was again over 110-yards in total offense while Bush was effective as both a runner and receiver.
Still what stands out are Campbell’s two picks. One that was inexcusable while the second was inexplicable as he gave Vince Wilfork his second pick of the season. How a defensive lineman weighing over 340 pounds could have put the game to sleep with an INT is about all you need to know about this loss.
However not all is lost. Coach Jackson has seen the highs and lows of the NFL early in his head coaching career. Unlike other years there is enough faith that Jackson will get his team refocused. The real issue is that this team has cost itself two wins thanks to mental errors and careless mistakes.
Jackson gets credit for making his squad the most deadly silver and black attack in nearly a decade. But there are no silver medals in the NFL. Only wins matter. Today was an opportunity to officially announce the rebirth of the Raiders. That chance has gone wanting. Now it’s off to Houston where an equally challenging Texans team awaits. Hopefully next week the Raiders won’t stand in their own way like they did today.
Topics: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bill Belichick, Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Hue Jackson, Jason Campbell, Kevin Boss, Michael Bush, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Patrick Chung, Richard Seymour, Stanford Routt, Stevan Ridley, Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, Wes Welker, Zach Miller