FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Raiders gave up 400 yards rushing in the season’s first two games. Head coach Dennis Allen was honest in an opinion that, if he were an opposing coach, he would run on the Raiders too.
“Until we prove that we can stop it, you’re going to keep seeing it,” Allen said Monday. “We have to prove we can stop the run.”
The Raiders did so on Sunday afternoon, an accomplishment sullied by a 16-9 loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
After some struggles in the second quarter, the Raiders locked Patriots backs down. They gave up 76 yards on 32 rushes and allowed just 2.4-yards per carry.
It wasn’t something defensive played drastically different. It wasn’t a scheme change.
“It was a state of mind,” defensive end Justin Tuck said. “We came into this game knowing we hadn’t played well against the run. We gave up some big numbers on the ground, which was embarrassing. We challenged each other. We said: ‘Each man, do your job.’
“I wish I could give you an inside tip on what we did different, but there wasn’t anything like that. It was about us simply playing better.”
That was a surprising development considering the Raiders injury situation. They played without middle linebacker Nick Roach and weakside linebacker Sio Moore, but replacements Miles Burris and Kaluka Maiava filled in admirably and deserve credit for improve run defense.
There was a lull in the second quarter, but the Raiders were stout beyond that. Run defense, in turn helped the pass rush. The Raiders were able to negatively impact Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who was sacked twice and hit six other times.
“Those things happened because we were able to stop the run,” Tuck said. “We were in some situations where we knew he was going to throw the ball. Everybody thinks pass rushers are fast or are gurus of crazy moves, but nobody is going to be successful if you’re not stopping the run.
“Going forward, stopping the run has to be our No. 1 goal, our top mindset. It just opens up so many other things.”