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New England’s Running Backs Steamroll the Raiders

After losing to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football last week, the New England Patriots bounced back with a 36-20 win over the Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders made a cross-country flight to Foxborough for this game which could have played a factor in their poor showing. New England moved to 2-1 with a win over Las Vegas which slots them into second place in the AFC East.

Through the first two games of the season Cam Newton had been the star of New England’s offense, but he took a backseat this week in favor of the Patriots’ three running back rotation. Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, and J.J. Taylor combined for 26 carries, 9 receptions, 281 yards from scrimmage, and 3 total TDs.

After New England’s first three drives resulted in two punts and an interception, Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels decided to switch up the gameplan. UDFA J.J. Taylor came into the game and used his explosiveness to hit the outside on toss plays. This would make Las Vegas shift their defense, which opened up the middle of the field for Sony Michel who ran for 117 yards on 9 carries.

Bill Belichick had this to say on New England’s rushing attack against Las Vegas, “Josh did a great job at mixing it up between running inside, running outside, some zone schemes, some gap schemes, some misdirection. I thought it was pretty well executed for the most part.” The Patriots kept the Raiders off balance in terms of running the ball, which allowed New England to pull away with this one.

With one final note on the RBs, Rex Burkhead played pretty well as well with 13 touches for 98 total yards and 3 TDs. He led the way for New England in terms of scoring, and he had some pretty fantastic runs that involved breaking tackles, juking defenders, and diving for the endzone. He gave maximum effort in this game and it paid off.

The running game can only have success if the offensive line plays well and that happened even with injuries to the O-Line. With David Andrews going on IR, LG Joe Thuney shifted to C and rookie 6th round pick Mike Onwenu took over at LG. The average age of New England’s starting offensive line was 24.8 years old for this game, but they still got it done.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots played pretty well for the majority of the game. The only two poorly played defensive stands came at the end of both halfs. With 34 seconds left in the first half, Las Vegas marched down the field for 75 yards resulting in a TD. Stephon Gilmore had a PI call which gave the Raiders possession in plus territory and the rest of the DBs gave up some chunk plays as well.

The only other TD New England’s defense gave up came at the end of the 4th quarter when the Patriots were up 36-13. New England forced 3 punts and created 3 turnovers with one of those being a strip sack by Deatrich Wise Jr in Las Vegas’ endzone which Wise recovered for a TD.

Deatrich Wise had a fantastic game as he got lots of pressure against Las Vegas’ offensive line. He had 5 total tackles, 2 QB hits, the strip sack for a TD, and a lot of disruptions that won’t show up in the box score. Chase Winovich also had a sack as well.

The Patriots have a tough task ahead of them as they will travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in week 4. The Chiefs are currently 2-0 with the Baltimore Ravens on the docket for tonight. New England showed they could hang with tough teams in their game against the Seahawks, but this Chiefs team will give New England lots of trouble.

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