FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Raiders were outgained and outclassed in two losses to start the season. Players insisted they would keep their cool despite such disastrous results, focus on making corrections and play better in the near future.
They certainly did that on Sunday against the heavily-favored New England Patriots.
Still wasn’t good enough.
The Raiders lost 16-9 to the Patriots in a game that was competitive into the fourth quarter.
In fact, it could have gone into overtime.
With 1:02 remaining, Darren McFadden scampered six yards into the end zone, but the touchdown was negated by a holding penalty on Gabe Jackson.
On the very next play, Derek Carr's pass across the middle bounced off Denarius Moore's hands, and was intercepted by Vince Wilfork.
The Raiders played good defense and kept the game close. The offense’s inability to get in the end zone ultimately cost them. They took field goals from three promising drives when even one touchdown could’ve given them a late lead.
The Raiders held New England to a pair of field goals in the second half, which gave rookie quarterback Derek Carr a shot to tie the game with 6 minutes, 20 seconds remaining.
The Raiders went three-and-out, and missed a golden opportunity to score.
The Raiders hung tough in the first half, and went into the locker room with a 10-3 deficit. They played better defense and controlled time of possession, but a touchdown from Brady to tight end Rob Gronkowski.
The Raiders struggled to cover Gronkowski in big moments, which included a 22-yard pass on 3rd-and-15 in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots picked up some offensive momentum late in the game, which provided a few field goals the necessary margin of victory.
Tom Brady, meet Khalil Mack: Rookie linebacker Khalil Mack continues to improve as the season wears on, and had a strong game against New England.
His best play was a big hit on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on 3rd-and-2 in the third quarter. He snuck around his blocker, hit Brady in the back and forced the Patriots to punt.
Committed to the run: The Raiders where in a competitive game against the Patriots, which allowed them to have a more balanced attack.
While the Raiders ran more often, they didn’t run particularly well. Starter Darren McFadden struggled to establish a strong rhythm, with just 59 yards on 18 carries. That’s just a 3.3-yard per carry average, which slowed the Raiders offense some.
Reece more involved: All-Pro fullback Marcel Reece was more involved against New England that the previous week against Houston, when he had one touch in 19 snaps.
Reece was targeted quite a bit in the passing game, and ended up with 3 receptions for 19 yards, on 7 targets. He also had a carry for seven rushing yards.
A better start: The Raiders struggled mightily in the first half of their opening games, but got off to a far better start against the Patriots.
They opened the scoring for the first time since Thanksgiving 2013, when Janikowski punctuated a strong opening drive with a 49-yard field goal.
The defense also started well. They forced a three-and-out, the first scoreless opening drive in six games.
Injury update: Receiver Rod Streater suffered a foot injury in the first half and did not return. He was seen on the sideline in a walking boot. Andre Holmes took his spot in the base offense.
Strong safety Tyvon Branch suffered a foot injury and was carted into the locker room from the sideline.
Sitting it out: The Raiders’ inactive list was fairly predictable. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew wasn’t ready to return from a hand injury and middle linebacker Nick Roach still has concussion-like symptoms. Sio Moore was ruled out Friday with an ankle injury and backup quarterback Matt Schaub has left the team with a personal issue.
Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa, guard Tony Bergstrom and tackle Matt McCants were also ruled inactive.
What's next: The Raiders will be in the United Kingdom for next week’s game against the Miami Dolphins. They will play the first of three NFL games at London’s Wembley Stadium. It’s their last game before a Week 5 bye.