Going to try to do this more as we wait for the coaches' film to be posted on Mondays.
The Patriot's 36-20 victory over the Raiders was actually a very tight affair until the middle of the third quarter, and then the Patriots put the Raiders away. Vegas actually had a chance to execute New England's patented double score, right in their own home, with two touchdowns to close and open the halves.
Instead, the Raiders missed a field goal and the Patriots wound up with a 14- or 10-point swing that gave them a 20-10 lead and made it very difficult for the Raiders to come back.
How did it happen? Once again, it was Derek Carr's inability to make a game-changing play against a tough opponent, and a key double block by Jermaine Eluemunor to spring Sony Michel and put the Patriots in position to score a touchdown.
Play No. 1: 2-6-NE 22 (11:37) (Shotgun) D.Carr pass incomplete short middle to D.Waller (D.McCourty).
This is the play where Jason McCourty nearly picked off the ball after Devin McCourty broke up the pass. There was nothing genius about this play. It was Cover 1 with man underneath. The Patriots did help on Hunter Renfrow out of the slot, but the defense wasn't very exotic. It was just Carr making a poor read, as he is prone to do.
Jon Gruden actually has the perfect call on this play. He has an under route to Darren Waller, who has single coverage (that is funneling it to McCourty), and an over route mismatch in Josh Jacobs against Ja'Whaun Bentley. The play was designed as a Cover 1 beater to put Devin McCourty into conflict – make him choose between the under and over route, and McCourty would dictate where the throw goes.
And that happens. McCourty dives on Waller even before Carr throws the ball. McCourty's action should tell Carr to throw deep to Jacobs in the end zone — both throws are on the same line — but Carr makes the wrong read and nearly throws an interception.
3-6-NE 22 (11:32) (Shotgun) D.Carr pass short left to J.Richard to NE 22 for no gain (T.Brooks).
This is a play were the Patriots have coverage numbers. They have two players for Waller on the left of Carr. They have four coverage defenders on right for three Raiders. In most offenses, that would dictate some sort of quick-hitter to the back up the middle — likely a draw. The middle of the field was wide open. Either Carr doesn't have that ability, or he again made a poor decision.
Instead, he goes back to pass, stares down a doubled Waller, the tackles allow pressure on good rushes from Chase Winovich and Shilique Calhoun, and Carr misses a possible outlet to the right in Zay Jones.
Daniel Carlson missed the 41-yard field.
2-4-NE 37 (10:07) S.Michel right tackle to LV 25 for 38 yards (N.Morrow).
After a checkdown to Jakob Johnson, the Patriots finally get a big play from Sony Michel.
It starts with the Patriots having numbers — seven blockers (five linemen, tight end, fullback) against seven box defenders) — and then it comes to execution — and LB Cory Littleton being late on the play.
Johnson collapses the cornerback, but really it's Jermaine Eluemunor who makes the play.
He executes a double team at the line on Maxx Crosby, then climbs to the second level to block Johnathan Hankins AND Littleton, who Ryan Izzo missed. Michael Onwenu finishes off the play by riding out Raekwon McMillan, and then the rest was up to Michel, who was not touched until he was tackled.