Early on, it looked as if the New England Patriots were capable of scoring 100 points on the Raiders, but, then again, a 21-point deficit for Oakland might as well be a 100-point deficit. The Patriots used a dominant first quarter, and a strong performance from Matt Cassel to blast Oakland, 49-26.
Cassel, playing with a heavy heart, completed 18-of-30 passes for 218 yards and four touchdowns. He threw a pair of scores in the first quarter -- one to Kevin Faulk, the other to Randy Moss -- while also connecting with Wes Welker in the second, and once again hitting Moss for a nine-yard strike in the third quarter.
Moss, by the way, making his return to Oakland after two less-than-stellar years there, hauled in five passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns. But, hey, Oakland has John Bowie to show for that draft-day trade. Oops.
The most exciting moment of the game was a 20-second stretch in the second quarter that saw both teams combine for three touchdowns, two of which came on kickoff returns.
Following Welker's touchdown early in the second quarter, Oakland's Justin MIller returned the ensuing kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown, pulling the Raiders to within 14 points. Because they're the Raiders, they allowed Ellis Hobbs to take the following kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. 20 seconds of clock -- three touchdowns. Exciting.
Meanwhile, Patriots running back LaMont Jordan was also making a return trip to the black hole, and he too got the last laugh as he rushed for 97 yards on 12 carries (that's 8.1 yards per carry) including a 49-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Sammy Morris led the Patriots with 117 yards on 14 carries.
For the Patriots, the win is huge simply because it allows them to keep pace with Miami and the Jets -- both winners on Sunday -- as all three teams hold 9-5 records in a three-way battle for AFC East supremacy. And to think, a year ago, all of these teams, except for the Patriots, were awful.
Oakland, on the other hand, is simply playing out the season. JaMarcus Russell completed 17-of-31 passes for a game-high 242 yards and two touchdowns, while Justin Fargas rushed for 70 yards on 15 carries.
Patriots 49, Raiders 26: Matt Cassel Impressive, Randy Moss Gets Some Revenge originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Sun, 14 Dec 2008 21:20:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.