Charles Krupa / Associated Press
Published Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020 | 2 a.m.
Updated Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020 | 4:18 p.m.
On a day when the Raiders couldn't quite get their offense firing for any extended period, it was up to the defense to keep Las Vegas in the game. They could not.
New England scored on six straight possessions, including all three drives in the second half, to pull away for a 36-20 win and hand the Raiders their first loss of the season.
Las Vegas got a couple of key red-zone stops early, forcing New England into short field goals to keep the game close. And Derek Carr led a quick touchdown drive just before the half to pull the Raiders within 13-10, and at that point it looked like the silver and black might be in position to steal the game. But the New England offense cranked it up in the second half and methodically pounded the visitors into submission.
Tackling was a particular issue for Las Vegas, as New England running backs Sony Michel (117 yards, 13.0 per carry), Rex Burkhead (49 yards, 8.2 per carry) and J.J. Taylor (43 yards, 3.9 per carry) took turns gashing the middle of the Raiders defense. For the day, Las Vegas allowed 250 yards on the ground at a clip of 6.6 yards per attempt.
Derek Carr and the Raiders offense simply could not keep up. Carr hit on 24-of-32 passes for 261 yards and Las Vegas actually averaged 6.7 yards per play (better than New England's 6.0), but turnovers proved costly. Josh Jacobs lost a fumble deep in Patriots territory in the first quarter, taking points off the board, and a strip-sack of Carr led to another New England field goal. In the fourth quarter, Carr was strip-sacked again, this time in the end zone with the Patriots recovering for an exclamation-point TD to make it 36-13.
The Raiders fall to 2-1 with the loss, and the schedule doesn't appear to be easing up in the near future. The 3-0 Buffalo Bills will come to Allegiant Stadium for a Week 4 matchup, and the Raiders will travel to Kansas City in Week 5 before a bye in Week 6.
Raiders trail in fourth quarter at New England
The Raiders had a prime opportunity to make this a game again, but another drive stalled out inside the 10-yard line and Las Vegas had to settle for a field goal to trim New England's lead to 10 points.
With 11:34 remaining, the Raiders trail, 23-13, and it will be up to the defense to get the ball back into Derek Carr's hands before too much time runs off the clock. That has been an issue today, as New England has a time-of-possession advantage of 27 minutes to 21 minutes.
Patriots score again, lead Las Vegas 20-10
Any momentum built by the Raiders at the end of the first half quickly abandoned them, as New England just scored a touchdown to increase its lead to 20-10 with 6:41 left in the third quarter.
Las Vegas came out of the locker room and drove the length of the field, but the offense stalled at the goal line and Daniel Carlson missed a short field goal that could have tied the score. The Patriots took over and moved 69 yards in seven plays, capping things off with a 5-yard Rex Burkhead touchdown run.
The Patriots have now run for 160 yards on 26 carries, good for 6.2 yards per attempt.
Late touchdown brings Raiders within 13-10 at half
Just when it looked like the Raiders might be down for the count, Derek Carr brought them back.
Carr's late touchdown pass trimmed a 10-point deficit to three, and the Patriots have a 13-10 lead at the half.
After a Raiders punt, the Patriots relied on the ground game as they embarked on a 12-play, 86-yard drive that chewed up more than five minutes of game time. With 34 seconds left in the half, Cam Newton found Rex Burkhead out of the backfield for a potentially back-breaking 11-yard touchdown.
The Raiders responded in a big way, however. Nelson Agholor drew a long pass-interference penalty against Stephon Gilmore to move the ball into Patriots territory, and Carr hit Hunter Renfrow with a beautiful pass down the seam for a 27-yard gain. The play was initially ruled a touchdown, but on review the ball was placed at the 1; Carr then hit Foster Moreau for a 1-yard TD with six seconds left in the half.
The Raiders only possessed the ball for 11 minutes in the half, and two turnovers led directly to a pair of Patriots field goals. But when given time to throw, Carr has been good, hitting 8-of-12 passes for 107 yards and the touchdown.
Las Vegas will receive the kickoff after halftime, which should give the team a chance to possess the ball and give the defense an extended breather.
Patriots take 6-3 lead over Raiders after turnover
The Raiders' beaten-up offensive line just cost the team three points, as replacement right tackle Denzelle Good allowed a strip-sack of Derek Carr that led to a go-ahead field goal for New England.
With 7:56 left in the half, the Patriots lead, 6-3.
Las Vegas was moving the ball near midfield when Patriots rusher Chase Winovich beat Good around the edge and hit Carr during his windup. Defensive tackle Lawrence Guy — a Las Vegas native — recovered the fumble, and though the Raiders defense held inside the 10, the Pats kicked another field goal to take the lead.
That's two costly turnovers on the day now for Las Vegas, as Josh Jacobs lost a fumble deep in New England territory in the first quarter.
Raiders lead 3-0 in New England
Two plays after Josh Jacobs lost a fumble deep in Patriots territory, safety Johnathan Abram picked him up by intercepting a Cam Newton pass along the sideline and returning it to the New England 18-yard line.
The Raiders were unable to get the ball into the end zone, as Derek Carr's third-down pass to Hunter Renfrow was knocked down, but Abram's big play allowed Las Vegas to kick a short field goal to take a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Las Vegas defense was on its game in the first quarter, as Newton was held to 3-of-6 passing for just 20 yards. The Raiders only allowed 19 rushing yards in the quarter.
Jacobs fumbles in red zone, Raiders and Pats still scoreless
The Raiders looked to be in good position to take an early lead in New England, but Josh Jacobs fumbled in the red zone to end a promising drive. With 3:09 left in the first quarter, it's still a scoreless game.
The Raiders defense forced a 3-and-out on the game's opening possession, as Trayvon Mullen made a nice play to break up a pass intended to Julian Edelman on third down. Las Vegas didn't get very far after the punt, however, as the Patriots blanketed all receivers on third down and left Derek Carr with no option but to toss the ball over the sideline.
Maxx Crosby notched his first sack of the season to end New England's next drive, and then it appeared the Raiders got something going, as Derek Carr completed consecutive passes to Nelson Agholor (18 yards) and Hunter Renfrow (22 yards) to move the ball into New England territory. But on a 2nd-and-5 from inside the 20, Jacobs had the ball knocked loose and the Patriots recovered.
Jacobs was enjoying a strong start up to that point, and he's now at 36 rushing yards on six carries. Crossing routes and mesh plays have had good success for Las Vegas so far, with Carr able to lead his receivers for big gains. We'll see if they stick with the run or try to let Carr work the next time they get the ball.
After escaping injury, Raiders Abram to play big role vs. Patriots
Las Vegas' spirited victory over the New Orleans Saints on Monday night was a feel-good moment for the franchise, but there was one scary moment — when second-year safety Johnathan Abram tumbled out of bounds after making a tackle and crashed into a heavy duty camera cart that was stationed beyond the sideline.
Abram stayed down for a few minutes before bouncing up and staying in the game, but it was a tense situation for the Raiders, especially given the context. Abram missed the final 15 games of his rookie campaign after going down in Week 1 of the 2019 season with a shoulder injury, so the thought of losing him again to such a freak accident had to be on the minds of the Raiders' brain trust.
It turned out fine — Abram practiced all week and will play today at New England, but according to an NFL.com report released this morning, he suffered a Grade 2 AC joint sprain and a chipped collarbone due to the collision with the cart. The NFL is now reviewing the placement of camera equipment around the league.
The Raiders sure are happy Abram escaped relatively unharmed, because he's likely to play a big role in today's matchup with the Patriots. New England quarterback Cam Newton has carried the ball 26 times for 122 yards and four touchdowns through two weeks, so containing him on the ground will be key; Abram, though listed at just 6-feet, 205 pounds, is Las Vegas' most forceful tackler and may be asked to keep an eye on Newton's running lanes in certain situations.
Raiders can make early playoff statement in New England
Is it possible for an NFL game to have playoff implications in Week 3?
Don’t scoff at the idea so quickly. With the Raiders off to a surprising 2-0 start and the league’s new, expanded postseason format making it easier to qualify for the playoffs, Las Vegas’ matchup at New England on Sunday has suddenly taken on the feel of a contest that will end up mattering late in the season.
It’s simply a numbers game. With seven playoff qualifiers per conference (four division winners and now three wild-card teams), an 8-8 record will likely be enough to secure a postseason spot. In that context, odds are good that Las Vegas and New England (1-1) will both be in the running in the final weeks.
And if (when?) that time comes, the Raiders are going to want a head-to-head victory over New England in their back pocket.
If Las Vegas is going to pull off its second road win of the year, it will probably take another high-voltage performance from the offense, because the defense has been shaky. The Raiders have allowed 6.7 yards per play this season, which currently ranks 31st out of 32 NFL teams, but Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller have been able to overcome that by dominating time of possession and hanging 34 points on the scoreboard in each of the first two games.
The New England defense may be vulnerable. Though Bill Belichick has the league’s best secondary at his disposal, the team’s front seven has been uneven through two games. Last week, the Patriots allowed Seattle to run for 154 yards at a rate of 5.1 yards per carry; that should be inviting for Jacobs even though the Raiders will be without starting offensive linemen Trent Brown and Richie Incognito.
Defensively, the Raiders’ big challenge will be matching up with quarterback Cam Newton, who looks reinvigorated in New England. Newton passed for 397 yards and a touchdown last week, and through two games he has carried the ball 26 times for 122 yards and four TDs.
Jon Gruden said Newton appears to be back in prime form.
“It’s good to see him healthy again and doing what he has done to make himself an MVP caliber player in this league,” Gruden said. “He’ll be a handful for us. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”