Editor's note: Scott Bair is in London with the Raiders. Stay logged on to CSNBayArea.com all week for comprehensive coverage of the Silver and Black.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Raiders’ 16-9 loss to the New England Patriots was hard-fought, but ultimately tough to take. The Raiders couldn’t push ahead despite several opportunities to do so. There were plenty of positives of note, but all were sullied some by the final result. Here is the top three:
1) Run D wakes up: The Raiders run defense was dead on regular season’s arrival, giving up 200 yards in each of the first two games. The Raiders couldn’t compete with those totals, which derailed chances to beat vulnerable opponents.
Wounded pride, however, resulted in improved effort and far better results. The Patriots gained 76 yards on 32 carries, which resulted in just 2.4-yards per carry.
Head coach Dennis Allen said all week stopping the run was a major point of emphasis, because opponents would pummel them on the ground until problems got fixed.
They certainly did, on Sunday at least, despite reserves Miles Burris and Kaluka Maiava playing major roles in run defense.
“We showed that we can play good against the run and, when that happens, we can get after the quarterback,” defensive end LaMarr Woodley said.
2) Khalil Mack on the attack: Respected New England left tackle Nate Solder came away with a solid impression of Raiders No. 5 overall pick Khalil Mack, and rightfully so.
Mack dominated that matchup from the outset, recording seven tackles, one for a loss, and a big quarterback hit.
“He’s a good player, young guy and an incredible talent,” Solder said. “He will certainly be a good player, in my opinion.”
Mack is turning into one before our very eyes. He’s incredibly quick off the edge, with the agility to capitalize on even the smallest blocking mistake.
His biggest play came in the third quarter, where he beat Solder inside and hit quarterback Tom Brady square in the back to force a dramatic incomplete pass. Best part: It came on third down.
Allen wouldn’t consider Mack’s performance a breakout game, but he certainly saw improvement. The young edge rusher had to agree.
“No doubt,” Mack said. “Coming in as a rookie, you should be getting better every game. I’m my biggest critic. You can only play your best game when you get a win.”
3) Raiders resilience The sky was falling all around the Raiders last week.
Their head coach was on the hot seat. Player competence was called into question, even for older guys with track records of success. The mounting criticism that followed losses to the New York Jets and the home-opener against Houston never wore them down.
They remained focused, gave great effort and fought until the oh, so bitter end.
“I know what the guys put into this,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “With that type of effort, you put a lot into it, it hurts when we don’t come away with it. But that’s a type of effort, like I told the guys in there, that’s the type of effort we have to have every week. You need that type of intensity, that type of effort, that type of focus, that type of concentration. We’ve proven that we can do it, now we’ve got to be consistent in doing that every week.”