The New England Patriots defeated a banged-up Raiders squad on Sunday, taking care of business in all facets of the game. After coming out relatively flat, the Patriots bounced back with 13 second-quarter points. The running back committee took care of business from there, as Newton and company cruised to a 36-20 victory over Las Vegas. Here are some of my thoughts on the game:
The Running Backs
After a disappointing first two games for the Patriots backfield, they carried the offense on Sunday. The three-headed monster of Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and J.J. Taylor was too much for the Raiders to handle, combining for 209 rushing yards. Michel led the way with 117 yards, which is the first time he’s broken the century mark on the ground since his rookie year in 2018. Burkhead was dominant on the ground and through the air, scoring three total touchdowns. Taylor was explosive when called upon, taking his career-high 11 carries for 43 yards. If New England’s running backs can play like this on a consistent basis, it adds an entirely new dimension to their offense.
The Defensive Line
New England’s defensive line disappointed in their first two games of the season. That wasn’t the case on Sunday. They contained emerging star Josh Jacobs to 71 yards, while sacking Derek Carr twice. The Patriots also forced three fumbles, including stripping Carr in the end-zone, which resulted in a safety. This was a statement game for New England’s defensive line. Hopefully they carry this momentum into this week’s difficult matchup against the Chiefs. Kansas City has allowed only two sacks on their first 137 snaps of the season.
Cam Newton’s Decision Making
After appearing to return to MVP form against Seattle, Newton stumbled out of the gates on Sunday. He repeatedly forced passes into double coverage, including a horrible interception on a broken play that Newton tried to throw to Burkhead. The attempt was easily read and picked off by Raiders safety Johnathan Abraham. Luckily for Newton, he snapped out of his funk in the second quarter and finished with 189 total yards and a touchdown. That being said, early-game mistakes won’t fly for Newton moving forward.
Keep an eye out on Cam’s health as the season progresses, as well. Newton has had 100 runs and 100 pure drop-backs this season. Those numbers needs to be considerably father apart if he wants to finish the season healthy.
Edelman wasn’t necessarily bad on Sunday, but the star receiver was certainly disappointing. Coming off a career-high game in terms of yardage (179 against Seattle), Edelman only caught two balls for 23 yards on Sunday. So far Edelman has been credited with three drops on 22 targets this year, bringing in only 15 catches. The drops have him on pace to have almost as many drops in 2020 than the last two years combined. He will look to bounce back this week against the Chiefs.
This was an impressive win for the Patriots over a Raiders team that just upset New Orleans last week. Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels continued to prove that they can find multiple ways to win. Patriots fans have to feel good about their team after three solid showings to start the year.
Next up: New England takes on the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. (ET).
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