Raiders fall victim to Patriots’ Mexico City pummeling

Since scoring 71 points in winning their first two games of the season, the Raiders had been able to muster just 17.9 points per game losing five of their last seven.

New England had allowed just 13.4 points per game during their five-game winning streak heading into Sunday’s Mexico City showdown with Oakland — never allowing more than 17 in any of those contests.

The trends were not in the favor of the Raiders (4-6), who were looking to gain ground on the division-leading Kansas City Chiefs, entering play in Estadio Azteca. Things quickly got worse, after the Patriots (8-2) forced a punt on Oakland’s opening possession then marched 87 yards for an early lead, converting each of their four third-down attempts.

And the “home team” was never able to stem the tide, eventually falling 33-8 and into a tie with the Chargers for second place in the AFC West.

The Oakland defense entered the fray allowing 245 yards allowed per game (T-10th most). Tom Brady surpassed that total on New England’s first drive of the second half, hitting wide receiver Brandin Cooks on a 64-yard touchdown — the Patriots’ longest pass completion of the season.

Cooks, who caught a 98-yard touchdown pass in Week 1 against the Raiders as a member of the Saints last season, was the coverage responsibility of rookie safety Obi Melifonwu, forced into a starting cornerback position due to Oakland’s rash of injuries. The coverage wasn’t there and Cooks found himself outside of the numbers on the right side of the field without a black jersey within eight yards of him and the ball. He trotted untested the final 30 yards.

This has been an issue much of the season for the Oakland defensive secondary — lapses in coverage have far too common.

In the end, those lapses led to 349 passing yards and three airborne scores by Brady. Danny Amendola caught eight of Brady’s 30 completions (on 37 attempts) for 66 yards and one score. Cooks compiled 149 impressive yards on six catches, including the one long touchdown.

The Raider rush defense was only marginally better, though it held the Patriots to 89 yards — well below its 12th-worst 116.6 yards per game. The problem fell in the average of 4.4 yards per carry (20 carries), bad enough to match the Dolphins’ seventh-worst season average. Dion Lewis did the greatest amount of damage, running for 60 yards on 10 totes.

As bad as the defense was, the offense may have been worse. At least for the first three quarters, when Oakland was held scoreless with a mere 194 yards of total offense.

Derek Carr and Co. were able to scrape together some garbage time window dressing in the fourth, though, piecing together 144 total yards and their lone score in the final period.

Carr go little help throughout the game from a receiving corps whose 18 drops entering the game were second-most in the league (49ers, 22). With at least five more drops, including one by Seth Roberts deflected into the arms of New England safety Duron Harmon, Carr was never able to establish rhythm in the passing game in turn stymieing that of the rushing game.

When Marshawn Lynch did get a chance to carry the ball against the Patriots defense, which entered the game allowing a league-worst 5.0 yards per carry, he did so at 6.1 yards per attempt — 11 carries for 67 yards. As a group, Oakland runners stacked 109 yards on just 21 tries. But running plays came few and far between after the Raiders found themselves down 30 in the third quarter.

Matching Brady, who finished with an astonishing 131.9 passer rating, and Cooks, who posted his best game as a Patriot, New England place kicker Stephen Gostkowski had himself a nearly record-setting day, drilling a 62-yarder — two shy of Matt Prater’s NFL mark — as time expired in the first half. He finished the day having converted on each of his four tries, totally 182 yards of kicking distance.

Battling through the drops, Carr completed 28-of-49 (57 percent) pass attempts for 237 yards and a score, credited to Amari Cooper, but finished the game with a noticeable limp after suffering his lone sack of the afternoon late in the fourth.

Collectively, the Raiders also limp their way out of Mexico’s mammoth stadium, having scored just 75 total points in six losses this season — 12.5 points per game.

Up next

Still, Oakland remains in the playoff hunt, both for the Wild Card and, thanks to the Chiefs’ loss to the lowly Giants Sunday, the division crown. It will continue that pursuit in a Week 12 Sunday matchup with the rival Broncos (3-7) at the Oakland Coliseum.

 


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s sports director and Oakland Raiders beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Raiders football.