Final, Patriots 36-20: It wasn’t the prettiest of victories, but a dominant ground game and an opportunistic defense pushed the New England Patriots past the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
Sony Michel led all rushers with 117 yards on just nine carries — including 38- and 48-yard romps — and Rex Burkhead finished with three touchdowns and 98 yards from scrimmage (49 rushing, 49 receiving) for New England.
Undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor chipped in with 43 yards on 11 carries as the Patriots racked up 250 rushing yards.
Defensively, the Patriots forced three turnovers (all fumbles) and scored on one, with Deatrich Wise diving on the ball in the end zone following a Shilique Calhoun strip sack. Las Vegas also scored touchdowns on just two of its five red-zone trips and went 3-for-9 on third down.
These efforts helped the Patriots overcome an imperfect performance from quarterback Cam Newton, who completed 17 of 28 passes for 162 yards with one touchdown with one interception in the win.
The Patriots also were unusually undisciplined with their defensive substitutions, forcing them to burn all three of their second-half timeouts before the halfway mark of the fourth quarter.
Now 2-1, New England will travel to Kansas City next Sunday to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs.
Fourth quarter, 5:10, Patriots 36-13: And that officially will ice the game for the Patriots.
Ex-Raider Shilique Calhoun strip-sacked Derek Carr in the end zone, and Deatrich Wise recovered for a New England touchdown.
It was Calhoun’s second forced fumble of the game. The play initially was ruled a safety but changed to a touchdown upon review.
Calhoun also had his first sack as a Patriot last week. Nice two-game stretch for someone who primarily played on special teams last season.
Fourth quarter, 5:17, Patriots 29-13: Rex Burkhead’s third touchdown of the day should seal the deal for the Patriots.
Cam Newton helped set up Burkhead’s latest score with a 21-yard scramble — the QB’s longest run of the season and his first real rushing contribution in the game.
Newton also delivered a strike to N’Keal Harry for 27 yards. Harry ran an excellent route on the play to lose cornerback Damon Arnette and showed impressive power after the catch.
Nick Folk missed the ensuing extra point.
The Patriots have scored on each of their last six legitimate possessions.
Fourth quarter, 11:22, Patriots 23-13: The Patriots maintain a two-score lead after holding the Raiders to a 25-yard field goal.
Derek Carr finally targeted Darren Waller for the first time two plays before the field goal. Waller was matched up against Jonathan Jones and beat the slot corner on a slant, but Devin McCourty ranged over to break up Carr’s pass.
On a negative note, the Patriots’ defense had to take yet another personnel-related timeout during the drive — their fourth of the game. They’re now out of timeouts with more than 11 minutes left to play.
End third quarter, Patriots 23-10: Sony Michel entered today with zero 35-plus-yard carries in his NFL career. He now has two on back-to-back carries.
Nick Folk’s third field goal of the game extended the Patriots’ lead.
Third quarter, 5:20, Patriots 20-10: A career-long 38-yard run by Sony Michel set up Rex Burkhead for his second touchdown of the afternoon.
Burkhead also picked up 15 yards on a catch-and-run earlier in the series. He leads all Patriots with five receptions in the game.
In an unexpected development, rookie Justin Herron checked in at left tackle for Isaiah Wynn for this drive. Wynn was listed as questionable for this game with a calf injury but did not appear to be receiving medical attention on the sideline.
Herron, left guard Mike Onwenu and receiver Isaiah Zuber — all rookies — delivered key blocks on Burkhead’s touchdown run. Herron and Onwenu were sixth-round picks, and Zuber went undrafted.
Wynn returned to the field after the Patriots’ defense forced a three-and-out.
Third quarter, 10:43, Patriots 13-10: That can be classified as “bend but don’t break.”
The Patriots gave up a 38-yard completion to Bryan Edwards after Joejuan Williams was flagged for holding on Darren Waller, but the Raiders came away with zero points.
A sound open-field tackle by Terrence Brooks on Jalen Richard on third-and-6 — after a near-interception by Jason McCourty on second down — forced the Raiders to settle for a 41-yard field-goal try, which Daniel Carlson hooked wide left.
Halftime, Patriots 13-10: The Patriots will take a slim three-point advantage into the locker room after the Raiders responded with a quick-strike touchdown.
A 14-yard completion to Nelson Agholor, a 28-yard pass interference penalty on Stephon Gilmore and a 27-yard strike to Hunter Renfrow set up a 1-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Foster Moreau.
Las Vegas deferred to start the game, so it’ll receive the second-half kickoff. Bill Belichick will not be happy with his defense for its performance on that final drive.
Some first-half stats:
Waller hasn’t been targeted, but he did draw a defensive holding call on Joejuan Williams on Renfrow’s long reception that prevented the Raiders from needing to burn their final timeout.
The Patriots need to be stronger against the run in this second half. Raiders running backs are averaging 7.5 yards per carry.
Second quarter, 0:34, Patriots 13-3: It took until the final minute of the opening half, but the Patriots finally have their first touchdown of the game.
It came after a five-minute drive that began with the best sequence we’ve seen from Sony Michel all season: 8-yard carry, 13-yard carry, 9-yard reception.
The Patriots also picked up 23 yards on a completion to Damiere Byrd and received two key third-down conversions from Rex Burkhead.
First, Burkhead took a pitch from Cam Newton for 7 yards on third-and-4 after a jet-sweep play-fake to Julian Edelman. Then, he hauled in a screen pass from Newton on third-and-3, juked the bejeezus out of Johnathan Abram and front-flipped into the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown.
Second quarter, 7:56, Patriots 6-3: More hard running from J.J. Taylor and a 17-yard scamper by Rex Burkhead moved the Patriots into the red zone, but back-to-back incomplete passes from the 5-yard line forced them to settle for another Nick Folk field goal.
Cam Newton is just 5-for-13 for 35 yards with an interception in this first half.
Second quarter, 11:51, 3-3: Cam Newton has not been sharp so far today.
After throwing an interception on the Patriots’ last possession, he had a poorly placed screen pass batted down and misfired on two throws to N’Keal Harry, the second of which would have resulted in a touchdown.
On a positive note, undrafted rookie running back J.J. Taylor got some run on the Patriots’ most recent drive and ran well, picking up 17 yards on three carries. UDFA wideout Isaiah Zuber also picked up 13 yards on a jet sweep. They’re the Patriots two leading rushers thus far.
Sony Michel carried the ball on the game’s first two plays (for 4 and zero yards) and hasn’t taken a handoff since. Newton has 5 yards on two carries.
The Patriots tied the game on a 33-yard Nick Folk field goal, then got the ball right back on a Chase Winovich strip-sack two plays later.
Winovich, who’s been one of the Patriots’ best defensive players this season, burned backup right tackle Denzelle Good on the play. Lawrence Guy had the recovery.
End first quarter, Raiders 3-0: Another costly Raiders penalty — this one an ineligible man downfield that wiped out a third-down conversion near the goal line — forced them to settle for a field goal after Jonathan Abram’s interception.
Tight coverage by J.C. Jackson on Hunter Renfrow after the penalty helped force the field-goal try.
Las Vegas is averaging 6.9 yards per play — and Darren Waller has yet to be targeted.
First quarter, 1:53, 0-0: A big play by outside linebacker Shilique Calhoun stopped an authoritative Raiders march inside the Patriots’ 10-yard line.
On the eighth play of a 77-yard drive, Calhoun punched the ball out of the hands of running back Josh Jacobs, who’s carved up New England’s defensive front in this first quarter. J.C. Jackson pounced on the loose ball, giving the Patriots possession.
The Patriots’ respite was short-lived, though. Three plays later, Cam Newton tried to force a pass to Rex Burkhead that was intercepted by safety Johnathan Abram.
Newton also tried to squeeze a pass to Julian Edelman into triple coverage earlier in the drive.
Outside of Calhoun’s forced fumble, this has been an extremely poor start for New England.
First quarter, 11:56, 0-0: The teams traded brief drives to begin the game, with the Patriots going three-and-out and the Raiders picking up one first down before punting.
New England’s defense is having a tough time corralling Josh Jacobs thus far, as his first two carries went for 12 and 6 yards. Derek Carr is having less success, going 0-for-2 on Las Vegas’ opening possession.
Carr’s first pass attempt was nearly intercepted by Stephon Gilmore, and his second was a throwaway on third down.
A Darren Waller Watch update: Adrian Phillips, Devin McCourty and Joejuan Williams all drew the Raiders’ star tight end in coverage on the opening series, with Williams and McCourty doubling him on third down. We’ve yet to see Gilmore match up on Waller, as many speculated this week.
First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: The Patriots opened the proceedings today with a moment of silence for running back James White’s father, Tyrone, who was killed in a car crash last Sunday.
Las Vegas won the coin toss and deferred. J.J. Taylor is back deep to receive the opening kickoff.
12:35 p.m.: Based on pregame warmups, it appears Joe Thuney will be the man to replace starting center David Andrews.
This will be Thuney’s first NFL start anywhere other than left guard, where he’s started every game since entering the league in 2016. He was a second-team All-Pro last season.
Thuney started games at every position except for center during his college career at N.C. State.
Rookie Mike Onwenu will start in Thuney’s usual guard spot, based on what we saw in warmups. He primarily played right guard at Michigan but has played only right tackle and jumbo tight end this season.
Moving Thuney to center and sliding Onwenu to left guard allows the Patriots’ to keep their best five offensive linemen on the field. Shaq Mason, Isaiah Wynn and Jermaine Eluemunor will start at right guard, left tackle and right tackle, respectively.
Hjalte Froholdt and the newly promoted James Ferentz will begin the game on the bench, as will rookie tackle Justin Herron.
“We’ll bring James Ferentz up from the practice squad, and he’ll be available along with Fro and Thuney,” head coach Bill Belichick said on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Patriots pregame show. “We’ll kind of see how it goes there, but we’re ready to play any one of those three players.”
12:21 p.m.: Cam Newton’s cleat design today pays tribute to late “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman, who died of cancer Aug. 28.
Newton, who also honored Boseman with a touchdown celebration in Week 1, gathered New England’s receivers for a lengthy pregame huddle once they took the field. This has been a weekly tradition for the QB.
12:15 p.m.: J.J. Taylor, Isaiah Zuber, Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel and Kyle Dugger are practicing kickoff returns in warmups. Damiere Byrd, Julian Edelman, Jakobi Meyers, Taylor and Zuber are catching punts.
Zuber is wearing No. 19 in his Patriots debut, last sported by wideout Malcolm Mitchell.
11:30 a.m.: Here are today’s Patriots inactives:
— All six are healthy scratches. (White was ruled out due to personal reasons.)
— Keene, a third-round pick, came off the injury report this week but will have to wait for his NFL debut. Jennings, another third-rounder, was active for the first two games but played sparingly.
With linebacker Josh Uche (second round) on injured reserve and kicker Justin Rohrwasser (fifth round) on the practice squad, just two of the Patriots’ top six 2020 draft choices are active today: safety Kyle Dugger and tight end Devin Asiasi.
— Undrafted rookie receiver Isaiah Zuber will make his NFL debut after being elevated from the practice squad.
— Wide receiver N’Keal Harry is active after being listed as questionable with an ankle injury and beginning his warmup routine later than usual. The Patriots will have five available receivers today: Harry, Julian Edelman, Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers and Zuber.
— Center James Ferentz (promoted from the practice squad Saturday) is active for the first time this season and could start at center in David Andrews’ place.
— Brian Hoyer continues to hold down his spot as New England’s top backup quarterback. Stidham has been inactive for each of the first three games.
— Tight end Darren Waller and running back Josh Jacobs both are active for the Raiders, as expected.
9 a.m. ET: Good morning from Gillette Stadium, where the 1-1 New England Patriots are preparing to square off against the 2-0 Las Vegas Raiders.
The Patriots, who are looking to bounce back from last week’s dramatic 35-30 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, will be without starting center David Andrews (hand), top pass-catching back James White (family matter) and rookie linebacker Josh Uche.
Andrews and Uche landed on injured reserve Saturday, requiring them to miss at least the next three weeks. The Patriots filled one of those spots by promoting veteran offensive lineman James Ferentz from the practice squad. He could start in Andrews’ place against the Raiders.
The Patriots also temporarily elevated defensive tackle Nick Thurman and wide receiver Isaiah Zuber for Week 3.
Wide receivers Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry, offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn, safety Kyle Dugger and defensive tackle Adam Butler are listed as questionable for New England.
The visiting Raiders ruled out offensive tackle Trent Brown, left guard Richie Incognito (who now is on IR), linebacker Nick Kwiatkowski and rookie receiver Henry Ruggs III — four key players.
Tight end Darren Waller, running back Josh Jacobs and offensive linemen Sam Young and Denzelle Good are listed as questionable, though Waller and Jacobs — Las Vegas’ top two offensive weapons — are expected to play, per a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The full inactive lists will be announced at 11:30 a.m. ET. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
Follow along throughout the day for full pre- and in-game coverage from Foxboro, Mass.