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Patriots 49, Raiders 26 – The Verdict

A week after the Patriots nearly lost to a lesser team, they came out and played one of their best games of the season in dismantling the hapless Raiders. New England jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and didn’t look back as every time the Raiders seemed to gain some momentum they would make a big play (Ellis Hobbs kick return for touchdown) to put any thoughts of a comeback to rest. All the credit in the world has to go to Matt Cassel, who had himself quite a day. Here are the answers to my pregame questions:

  1. How will Matt Cassel respond to the death of his father? About as good as can be imagined. Cassel set a tone of accuracy and precision early on and ended up throwing for 218 yards, four TDs and one pick (which *shocker* was Ben Watson’s fault). Cassel found Kevin Faulk, Randy Moss and Wes Welker for three first half TD passes and knew when to take the ball down and run, rushing for 18 yards on seven carries and only being sacked twice. He showed poise and presence in the pocket just days after the passing of his father. His team needed him today and he responded.
  2. Can the Patriots take advantage of a horrid Raiders passing attack? The Patriots secondary was able to bring more pressure and made the Raiders offense make mistakes. JaMarcus Russell did finish 242 yards and two touchdowns (though mostly in garbage time) but did make some costly mistakes, taking sacks and throwing a terrible pick near the goal line. The two headed monster of Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas did run for 116 yards but the Pats defense never let them take control of the game.
  3. Any chance of looking ahead to next week? There was no room for error because of the wins by the Jets and Dolphins and the Pats kept focused and did the job they needed to do. The Cardinals lost today and have already clinched the division but next week will still be a huge game at Gillette.

Final Thoughts

It was overall a dominant victory for the Patriots as despite one poor special teams play and Ben Watson’s butter fingers, the Patriots took it too the Raiders from the get go. The offensive and defensive line owned the trenches which is so important down the stretch of the season. The Patriots rushed for 277 yards, a gaudy number for a team ravaged by injuries – including Matt Light during the game. I’ve been harping on the importance of third down conversions all season and today the Pats owned that stat, converting 8 of 13 third downs while holding the Raiders to 5 for 13. The Patriots still have a lot to do and the road to the playoffs is still a very tough one, but Bill Belichick can be proud of the way his team played today.

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2 comments for “Patriots 49, Raiders 26 – The Verdict”

  1. Matt Cassel showed a great pocket presence against the Raiders. He seemed to know when to throw and when to duck and run.

    Too bad the Bills handed the Jets the victory :(. What’s sad is if the Dolphins win out, they’re in, no matter how well the Patriots do. I dont know if I could cope with 11-5 and out of the playoffs.

    Posted by KC | December 15, 2008, 4:46 am
  2. Yeah Cassel did really well last night but I’m not going to start celebrating just yet. Lets make it through the playoffs and to the Super Bowl and then I will get excited.

    Posted by Boston Knucklehead | December 15, 2008, 6:29 am

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