Foxborough, MA – The New England Patriots defeated the Las Vegas Raiders by a comfortable score of 36-20 on Sunday. The game was close through the first half, but the Patriots pulled away in the third quarter. The running game played a big part with Sony Michel rushing for 117 yards and Rex Burkhead scoring three touchdowns. Cam Newton finished with 162 yards through the air and another 27 on the ground.
The Patriots offense struggled out of the gate with a three-and-out to start the game. On their next possession the Raiders sacked Newton on third down forcing another punt.
It looked as if the Raiders were set to score before running back Josh Jacobs was stripped of the ball in the red zone. The ball wouldn’t stay with the Patriots long, however. Newton was picked off by Raiders safety Jonathan Abram. He was looking for Burkhead but didn’t see Abram as the second-year safety jumped in front and ran the ball back to the New England 14-yard line. New England’s defense held Vegas to a field goal making it a 3-0 ballgame. There was no more scoring in the quarter as the Patriots failed on each of their four attempts on third down.
The Patriots put a lengthy drive together to start the second quarter. Newton connected with Julian Edelman for 15 yards and got the ball across midfield for the first time. Three straight red zone incompletions led to the drive stalling. Nick Folk chipped a field goal through the uprights to make it a 3-3 ballgame.
On the ensuing Raiders possession, second-year defensive end Chase Winovich got to Derek Carr and stripped the football. New England recovered the ball and turned it into another three points to make it a 6-3 lead.
After some big runs from Michel to start the ensuing Patriots possession, Newton found Burkhead in the flat where he put a move on Abram and dove into the end zone for the score. It looked like the Patriots could go into halftime with a 13-3 lead, but a few chunk plays and penalties by the Patriots got the Raiders all the way to the New England one-yard line with only nine seconds remaining in the half. Carr floated a play-action pass to tight end Foster Mareau making the score 13-10 at the half. Las Vegas drove 75 yards in 28 seconds.
The Patriots didn’t let the Raiders get close for the rest of the game thanks to some impeccable running from Michel including a long run of 38 yards. Burkhead once again had his number called in the red zone and hurdled his way into the end zone.
New England continued to have success in the run game when Michel took off for a 48-yard run. Abram had trouble keeping up with the New England backs all day as Michel took his turn in making the Raider miss; the Pats knocked in another field goal for a 23-10 lead.
The Raiders pushed into Pats territory and were in the red zone when head coach Jon Gruden elected to kick a field goal on fourth-and-5.
Newton took the chance to extend the lead and methodically marched the offense down the field. Using his arm and legs the Auburn product chewed clock and gained yards to set up Burkhead for his third touchdown of the day. Nick Folk missed the extra point so New England settled for a 29-13 advantage.
The nail in the coffin was delivered by the New England defense when the pass rush got into the pocket for the second strip-sack of Carr. The ball was recovered by Deatrich Wise in the end zone for six more points and a 36-13 Patriots lead.
Carr engineered a garbage-time drive to make the final score 36-20.
Head coach Bill Belichick praised the run game as well as Newton. In the absence of center David Andrews, left guard Joe Thuney filled in for the week three matchup. Michel had nothing but praise for one of the team’s most reliable players after the win.
“[Thuney] practiced as hard as he can all week,” noted Michel. “Stepping into a new position. Sometimes, you have to adjust and that’s exactly what he did, and he did it well.”
The Patriots will face the Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday, Oct. 4. at 4:25 p.m. on CBS where they attempt to take down the reigning Super Bowl Champions. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs recently embarrassed Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens by a final of 34-20 on Monday Night Football.
Photo courtesy to Maddie Meyer.