BSJ Game Report: Patriots 36, Raiders 20 – New England shows it can win without Newton being Superman

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(Adam Richins for BSJ)

FOXBOROUGH — Everything you need to know from the Patriots’ 36-20 over the Raiders in quickie form, with BSJ insight and analysis:


Offense puts up a season-high in points without much from Newton: It wasn't always pretty, especially in a first half in which the Patriots were 0 for 5 on third downs to start the game, didn't convert one until there was 10:53 left in the second quarter and totaled just 13 points, but the Patriots ended up with 406 yards and 34 points. The better news, likely, was the Patriots didn't need much out of Cam Newton to do it. After being superhuman in the first two games, Newton was just 17 of 28 for 162 yards, one touchdown and one terrible interception for a passer rating of 73.8. Newton rushed nine times for 27 yards, although he did have a couple of key scampers to keep drives alive.

Bully Ball returns: After relying on Newton's right arm against the Seahawks, the Patriots rushed for 250 yards and two scores. The three backs — Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and J.J. Taylor — combined for 26 times for 209 yards (8.03 average). Michel got off to a tough start, thanks to poor blocking, but Josh McDaniels turned to Taylor and Burkhead on outside runs to loosen things up. Michel had runs of 38 and 43 yards inside to provide the thunder.

Defense clamps down, turns the ball over: After allowing Raiders RB Josh Jacobs to carry nine times for 54 yards (6.0) in the first half, the Patriots limited him to 17 yards on seven carries (2.4) in the second half. Without that option in the second half, the Raiders' offense grounded to a halt. Shilique Calhoun (two) and Chase Winovich (strip sack) each forced fumbles. Joejuan Williams and some teammates held TE Darren Waller to just two catches on four targets and 9 yards. Deatrich Wise was also impactful with a half-sack and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.