New England's BenJarvus Green-Ellis cuts upfield for a big gain against the Raiders. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Since their win over the New York Jets last week, the Oakland Raiders were eager to show what they could do against the New England Patriots.
Wins over the Jets and Broncos were nice, but the Patriots – Bill Belichick, Tom Brady & Co. – would be an early midterm in the 2011 season to see just how the 2-1 Raiders stack up against the NFL’s elite.
Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain had labeled it “a huge game.”
“It’s just another way to measure where we are right now,” he told reporters.
In terms of measurements Sunday, the Raiders came up way short, about where Muggsy Bogues comes up to Shaquille O’Neal.
The Raiders defense couldn’t stop the Patriots, who rolled up 409 total yards – averaging 6.7 per play – in a 31-19 victory at O.co Coliseum.
Oakland came into the game with the 28th-ranked defense in the NFL, and the Patriots picked it apart through the air and on the ground. Brady threw for 226 yards without an interception, hitting Wes Welker nine times for 158 yards, while running backs Stevan Ridley (97 yards rushing) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (75) gave the Pats’ No. 1-ranked offense a more balanced attack than they’ve shown in recent weeks.
After Michael Bush’s touchdown run gave the Raiders a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter, the Patriots scored the next 17 points to take control.
And, while the Raiders’ offense showed it could move the ball – it actually outgained the Patriots 504-409 -- Oakland committed critical mistakes while trying to keep up its side of a scoring duel.
With New England up 14-10 in the second quarter, the Raiders drove from their own 14 to the Patriots’ 6, when Jason Campbell threw an interception in the end zone. It proved to be a turning point, as the Patriots drove for a field goal to take a 17-10 lead at the half.
Another critical play and a call by the officials spoiled other opportunities for the Raiders to get back into the game.
In the third quarter, Oakland drove to the Pats’ 15, when Campbell attempted to hit Jacoby Ford near the goal line. Ford appeared to be knocked down on his route, and officials at first signaled pass interference. The call was reversed, however, and Oakland had to settle for a field goal.
Then, early in the fourth quarter, the Raiders drove deep into Patriots territory when Campbell threw an interception to big defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.
With fewer mistakes on offense, the Raiders might have stayed close, but Oakland’s defense never showed it could get a stop on the Pats.
As a measurement tool, the matchup showed where the Raiders are: still in need of some growth, especially on defense.