By Shawn Lealos
The Oakland Raiders have struggled throughout the 2017 NFL season. After starting off the year as favorites to make the playoffs and one of the top AFC teams when it came to Super Bowl odds, injuries decimated the Raiders secondary, and the offense has struggled to meet the heights that they reached last season.
After beating the Miami Dolphins last week, the Raiders needed a rebound game this week in Mexico City, but their opponents were the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. The Raiders were unable to keep up their momentum and fell to the Patriots, 33-8. Here is a look at the Raiders’ team grades after their loss to the Patriots.
If the stat line is all fans look at, the Raiders were not horrible on offense. They lost the yardage battle to the Patriots, 420-344, but the problem is that the Raiders didn’t put any points on the board until the fourth quarter. Derek Carr completed 57 percent of his passes, but threw only one touchdown to go with one interception. The offensive line just gave up one sack as well. However, Carr only averaged 8.4 yards per completion and wasn’t moving the team down the field.
It also hurt the Raiders that they had 15 third downs in the game, and converted on less than half of them, with seven conversions. They even went for it on fourth down four times, with a 50 percent conversion rate. With a 4.8 yard-per-play average, there wasn’t much of a chance for the Raiders to sustain their drives.
The running game didn’t help much, either. Marshawn Lynch had his longest run of the season with a 25-yard scamper and averaged 4.2 yards-per-carry the rest of the game. Jalen Richard added 19 yards, and Jamize Olawale returned from injury to add 16 yards as well. As for the receivers, Michael Crabtree and Cordarrelle Patterson combined for 10 receptions and 96 yards, but it was Amari Cooper who scored the only touchdown reception on three catches for 28 yards in the game.
The Raiders released one of their injured cornerbacks and put a second on Injured Reserve since their last game, and they still don’t have the weapons needed to stop elite quarterbacks. Tom Brady completed 30 of 37 pass attempts for 339 yards and three touchdowns. Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks led the team in yards with 149 and a score while Danny Amendola led New England in receptions (8) and scored a touchdown to boot.
The Raiders defense also didn’t do much to stop Dion Lewis, who had a great game as well. The New England running back ran for 60 yards on 10 carries and caught four passes for 28 yards and a touchdown. The Raiders couldn’t stop the Patriots offense, although not many teams can. However, this is a recurring theme this season. Oakland won’t win against elite teams until they can start to stop opposing quarterbacks.
Special Teams: C
When it comes to the Raiders’ quality special teams, they had almost nothing to do against the Patriots this week. Oakland converted a two-point conversion, so the Raiders kicker did nothing this week. There were no field goal or extra point attempts in the game. New England only had to punt the ball twice, and Oakland never had a chance to return one. The Raiders also had just one kick return, which was for 16 yards. Finally, punter Marquette King was below average with three punts, only one inside the 20, and averaged just 45.6 yards per attempt.
The Raiders needed to find a way to stop the Patriots, and couldn’t seem to pull it off in this game. The Raiders were down by 30 points before they even scored their first touchdown. Tom Brady completed his first nine passes, and the Raiders defense still can’t seem to stop anyone. If the Raiders don’t improve quickly, their season might spiral out of control.
Up Next: The Raiders (4-6) might have a slight break over the next two weeks. While they lost to the Denver Broncos (3-7) the last time the two teams played, Denver has lost six games in a row and have fallen hard in the AFC West. If the Raiders can win that game, they should be able to keep the momentum going when they face the New York Giants (2-8) the week after that. If the Kansas City Chiefs drop one of their next two games and Oakland wins against NY and Denver, the Raiders could play for the AFC West lead in three weeks when they travel to play the Chiefs. There is still a chance for Oakland to turn things around, and the next two weeks are pivotal in that opportunity.