In a game where neither quarterback could establish any sort of rhythm, the New England Patriots' offense retooled its approach and mashed the Las Vegas Raiders' defense on the ground en route to a 36-20 win.
With 34 seconds left until halftime, Raiders QB Derek Carr marched his team down the field for a touchdown to keep Las Vegas within 3 points. But in the end, superior coaching adjustments by New England in the second half turned out to be the difference-maker.
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Story Of The Game
After watching Cam Newton struggle in the first half, the Patriots' coaching staff made a concerted effort the rest of the way to get their running backs out in space and on the edge of the defense. Rex Burkhead led his team in targets (9), catches (7), receiving yards (49) and touchdowns (3), while 65% of New England's rushing output came on runs that went for 10 yards or more.
The Patriots' ability to run the ball effectively made rushing the passer almost impossible for Las Vegas. Visibly gassed, the defensive line pressured Newton on only 6.5% of his dropbacks.
With an average throwing depth of 8.1 yards and 55.9% of his passing yards coming through the air, Derek Carr looked aggressive. But by the time he settled into the game, it was too late.
Injuries continue to be an issue for the Raiders' rookies. Entering the game, first-round receiver Henry Ruggs III was ruled out with knee and hamstring injuries. And Bryan Edwards caught two balls for 48 yards and played 13 snaps before exiting with an injury in the third quarter.
Starting cornerback Damon Arnette left the game in the second quarter and returned in the second half. He allowed two catches from two targets and surrendered 50 total yards.
For New England, undrafted running back J.J. Taylor provided a spark to the offense in the second quarter. Taylor appeared for 15 snaps, and behind his 11 carries for 43 yards, the Patriots found their groove on offense.
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