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Monday, October 19, 2020

Patriots vs. Raiders Instant Takeaways: Sony Michel, Pats run game excel in winning

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The New England Patriots extended their winning streak against the Las Vegas Raiders to six games on Sunday afternoon with a strong quick attack and three forced turnovers on defense.

The Patriots began to slow offensively to start their match of Week 3 at Gillette Stadium, going 3-and-out twice and throwing an interception on the first three possessions, as well as not scoring a touchdown until 34 seconds left in the second quarter.

New England eventually found their pace on the way to a 36-20 win. The Raiders have not yet beaten the Patriots in Foxboro since 1994.

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Here are four instant tips from the Patriots’ victory.

1. Sony Michel, Pats run game finds another piece of equipment

After a strong week 1, the Patriots weren’t able to generate much success on the pitch in a week 2 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. New England ran only 67 yards (2.7 per carry) as a team, and their running backs averaged just 1.6 yards per run.

Sunday went much better for the Pats. They cut the Raiders defense by 250 yards (6.6 per carry) and two touchdowns.

Here is a great stat on the Patriots’ impetuous ability to kick off the 2020 season:

Patriots running back Sony Michel, who had fought hard with 56 yards in the first two weeks, ran 117 yards on nine carries. Michel’s 38 and 48-yard runs in the second half were two of the best of his career. Indeed, entering on Sunday, Michel had zero runs of over 35 yards as the Patriot.

The Patriots needed strong play from their hasty attack because quarterback Cam Newton was average at best as a passer. He completed 17 of 28 pass attempts for just 162 yards with a touchdown and interception.

If the Patriots compete for the AFC title in 2020, the run game must lead them to success. Sunday’s performance was definitely a positive step forward in this regard.

2. Chase Winovich has been outstanding in three games

The Patriots have lost several players from the top seven in defense thanks to free agency and opt out, and they needed a young player to step up and become a quality pass rusher. So far, Chase Winovich has responded to the challenge.

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The defensive portion of the second year recorded two tackles, a sacking, two QB hits and a forced fumble in the second quarter which led to the game’s first New England touchdown. His ability to constantly put pressure on the quarterback was a huge boost to the team’s defense.

3. Timeout management needs to be better

The Patriots had burned all three second half timeouts with 12:30 remaining in the fourth quarter. Any timeout had to be taken because New England did not have the proper defensive personnel on the pitch. These are mental errors which, while very unusual for a team coached by Bill Belichick, cannot happen.

It didn’t prove expensive against the Raiders, but those mistakes need to be removed before next week’s showdown against defending champion Kansas City Chiefs.

4. JC Jackson offers rebound performance

Secondary Jackson and the Patriots as a whole played poorly in last week’s loss to the Seahawks, but Sunday’s performance from the 24-year-old cornerback was much better.

The Raiders could have had a 14-0 lead after the first quarter, but Jackson made two big wins in the red zone. Jackson recovered a Josh Jacobs fumble on a drive, and upon Raiders’ subsequent possession he broke a pass on the third down that forced Las Vegas to settle for a field goal.

Jackson finished with six solo tackles, a fumble recovery and a defended pass. He also excelled in covering passages. Jackson is one of the most underrated defensive players in the league and has shone so far in 2020 with excellent performances in Week 1 and Week 3.

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