I’m going to start this with a joke (no, not the Oakland Raiders performance in this game, we’ll get to that). The nation of Mexico got handed a raw deal by the United States once again. Because this contest wasn’t worth the 77,000+ attendance numbers. Sorry, guys.
The New England Patriots absolutely destroyed the Raiders in this one, earning a 33-8 win in Mexico City. The Raiders defense faltered like most thought they would, and mistakes on offense gave the game away early.
Tom Brady was his usual dominant self, eviscerating the Raiders broken secondary with 339 yards and 3 touchdown passes on 30 for 37 passing. He was virtually flawless, and the Silver and Black had little chance of slowing him down once he got going.
He spread the ball around efficiently as well, giving most of his weapons time to shine. Brandin Cooks was the main beneficiary; he caught 6 passes for 149 yards, scoring on a 64-yard bomb from Brady on the first drive of the second half. Cooks also snared a 52-yarder earlier in the second.
Stephen Gostkowski had the rest of the points for the Patriots, going 4-for-4 on field goals. The first was the best one, putting a 62-yard kick through the uprights with plenty of room to spare at the end of the first half. Gostkowski had a chance after the Raiders defense let Brady drive into long range in 4 plays with just 33 seconds to go.
But how the Patriots got the ball in the first place was the true backbreaker. The Raiders were down 14-0 late in the second quarter but had gotten the ball into the red zone with some impressive runs from Marshawn Lynch and Jalen Richard. Then it all collapsed.
Derek Carr fired a pass to Seth Roberts for a first down inside the Patriots 5-yard line. However, an expertly timed swipe from Marquis Flowers forced a fumble, which was recovered by Jonathan Jones. Any chance the Raiders had of getting it back into the game afterward evaporated.
Carr was continually let down by his receivers throughout the day. Roberts and Michael Crabtree had two drops each. Amari Cooper could not get open under the watch of Malcolm Butler. Most devastatingly, Johnny Holton let a deep pass bounce off his chest into the waiting hands of Duron Harmon for an interception in the first quarter and later picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct flag for shoving Jones after a play.
In spite of all that, Carr was able to carve out 237 yards and a TD on 28 for 49 passing. The TD went to Cooper in the final period, who was otherwise quiet; he had 3 catches for 28 yards. Crabtree led the team with 6 catches for 51 yards and a 2 point conversion.
If there’s anything to take away from this game, it’s that Marshawn Lynch may have finally found his mojo. He ran the ball 11 times for 67 yards, by far his best outing in terms of production. He had few chances after halftime with such a large deficit.
This is a brutal blow to the Raiders, especially their coaching staff. They had an extra week to prepare for a Patriots team that has a dangerous offense and a struggling defense. Neither side of the ball was able to do anything.
Miraculously, the Raiders are just a game out of the playoffs at 4-6. However, there’s a logjam of teams (6 in total) in the same situation, and the team is currently behind everyone else due to tiebreakers. They’ll host a similarly shaky Denver Broncos next week. The Patriots will play the Miami Dolphins.