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What we learned: Patriots hold on down stretch for win over Raiders

09.21.14 at 3:57 pm ET
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Julian Edelman and the Patriots managed to secure a win over the Raiders on Sunday. (Getty Images)

Julian Edelman and the Patriots managed to secure a win over the Raiders on Sunday. (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — In a contest that was remarkably similar to their narrow escape against the Browns last year, the Patriots hung on down the stretch against the Raiders Sunday, coming away with a 16-9 win in their home opener at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots jumped to a 10-3 halftime lead, but couldn’t shake a pesky Raiders team, which hung around throughout the afternoon until Vince Wilfork picked off a Derek Carr pass with less than a minute to go to in the New England red zone, ending the late Oakland threat.

Tom Brady was 24-for-36 for 234 yards and one touchdown. Stevan Ridley had 19 carries for 54 yards, while Julian Edelman had 10 catches for 84 yards. On the other side of the ball for Oakland, Carr was 21-for-34 for 174 yards with one interception.

Here are 10 things we learned about the Patriots Sunday afternoon:

It was a mildly underwhelming performance for Brady.

A strange afternoon for the quarterback, who was 3-for-5 for 0 yards after one quarter. The quarterback was able to lead a steady, consistent drive in the second quarter, when the Patriots assembled a 15-play sequence — their longest of the season to this point — and cashed in when Brady found Rob Gronkowski on a 6-yard touchdown pass to give the Patriots a 7-3 lead. But he was uneven at best the rest of the afternoon, missing a few throws (including a wide open Gronkowski on a pass play in the second quarter) and leaving some plays on the field as a result. Read the rest of this entry »

Halftime analysis: Patriots 10, Raiders 3

09.21.14 at 2:20 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Two quarters are in the books here at Gillette Stadium, and the Patriots lead 10-3.

Tom Brady is 12-for-17 for 76 yards and a touchdown. In addition, Stevan Ridley has 12 carries for 47 yards, while Julian Edelman has six catches for 47 yards. On the other side of the football, rookie Derek Carr was 13-for-18 for 76 yards.

Here are a couple of quick notes:

– The Patriots were unable to get much of any offensive consistency over the first quarter-plus — at the start of the second quarter, Brady was 3-for-5 for zero yards passing. The play calling was suspect at times — with the Raiders toting the worst run defense in the league into the game, the Patriots came out throwing, but they were still stuck in an offensive rut. New England didn’t break through until late in the second when they put together a 15-play drive — their longest of the season to this point — that went 84 yards and took 6:43. (The highlight likely came on a short 9-yard pass from Brady to Shane Vereen.) It ended with a 6-yard pass from Brady to Rob Gronkowski for the touchdown.

– New England then added to its lead before the end of the half — after forcing an Oakland punt, Brady led the New England offense back down the field. That sequence stalled out in the red zone, and the Patriots had to settle for a 21-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski.

– Carr hasn’t looked too ruffled in his first career start against the Patriots. While Oakland’s first drive stalled out, the Raiders maneuvered into New England territory late in the first quarter, and Sebastian Janikowski ended up banging home a 49-yard field goal to make it 3-0 with 4:37 left in the first quarter. While Carr wasn’t particularly impressive, he didn’t appear too overwhelmed by the setting, as he remained mostly poised throughout the first two quarters.

– The Patriots did some defensive shuffling early, as they presented multiple looks up front, rotating big bodies into the mix alongside Vince Wilfork. It was mostly Chris Jones, particularly after Sealver Siliga went into the locker room. Dominique Easley also saw some quality snaps in the early going up front. Rob Ninkovich got his hands on Carr early, forcing an incompletion and flashing good penetration along the way. One other defensive note for the Patriots: it was interesting to see Darrelle Revis moved around to multiple spots on the field, working on both the left and the right side against different receivers.

Shane Vereen, Jamie Collins active, Aaron Dobson and Alfonzo Dennard inactive for Patriots, Maurice Jones-Drew out for Raiders

09.21.14 at 11:50 am ET
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Jamie Collins

Jamie Collins

FOXBORO — Shane Vereen (shoulder) and Jamie Collins (thigh) will be part of the game plan for the Patriots but Aaron Dobson will not.

Collins returns to the lineup after sitting out last week with a thigh injury.

This marks the second time Dobson has been inactive this season (he was also inactive in Week 1 in Miami). Kenbrell Thompkins, who sat out last week in Minnesota, is active again.

Also inactive are defensive backs Alfonzo Dennard (shoulder) and Don Jones (hamstring), offensive linemen Josh Kline and Ryan Wendell(knee) and running back James White and defensive lineman Zach Moore. Michael Buchanan, who injured his ankle in the preseason finale against the Giants, is active for the first time this season.

For the Raiders, running back Maurice Jones-Drew has been scratched. Jones-Drew has carried the ball just nine times for 11 yards in two games. One of those carries gained 12 yards, meaning his other eight carries have netted minus-1 yard. The Raiders are next-to-last in rushing in the NFL after two games, averaging just 63 yards. The Raiders offense has been anemic overall, averaging just 261 yards overall in two losses.

Also inactive for the Raiders are QB Matt Schaub, CB Chimdi Chekwa, LB Sio Moore, LB Nick Roach, G Tony Bergstrom and OT Matt McCants.

Read More: Aaron Dobson, Jamie Collins, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders

Shane Vereen expecting the best from ‘very aggressive’ Raiders

09.21.14 at 10:11 am ET
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FOXBORO — Shane Vereen knows all the stats. He knows the Raiders enter the game dead last in the NFL in rushing defense, giving up exactly 200 yards per game on the ground. Last week, Houston’s Arian Foster had 138 yards on 28 carries.

So this figures to be a day when the Patriots turn to he and Stevan Ridley to gash the Raiders defense left, right and up the middle.

But Vereen still thinks the Oakland front seven can be a formidable opponent, populated with lots of veterans like Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Pat Sims and young talent like strong side linebacker Khalil Mack.

“Absolutely, every Sunday we expect our opponents’ best and I wouldn’t expect anything less from Oakland,” Vereen said. “I’ve seen a lot of the same. They’re very aggressive. They’re a very veteran group. They’ve played a lot of football. They know what they’re doing. It’s not like a young team so we’re going have to really play well and execute.

“Each D-line is different and each game plan is different. I would say with any aggressive D-line, patience is key. They’re going to make plays on their side of the ball so you just have to take the positives with the negatives, take what they give you.”

It may not be what the Raiders give Vereen on Sunday that matters. It may be getting the Patriots to give him the ball more. But Vereen maintains sharing running responsibilities with Stevan Ridley comes with the job. Last week, Vereen had 11 of the team’s 16 rushes in the first half before Ridley exploded in the second half for 23 carries and 87 of his 101 yards on the day.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Shane Vereen,

Setting the scene: Storms possible as Patriots open home schedule against Raiders

09.21.14 at 9:23 am ET
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Cloudy skies are expected, with thunderstorms possible, for the Patriots' home opener. (Mike Petraglia/

Cloudy skies are expected, with thunderstorms possible, for the Patriots’ home opener. (Mike Petraglia/

FOXBORO — The 2014 home schedule is finally here for the Patriots.

After splitting their first two games on the road, the Patriots will get their chance to open the home schedule Sunday against the Oakland Raiders here at Gillette Stadium. And it could be a stormy day.

Forecasters are calling for temperatures in the mid-to-upper 70s with a chance of thunderstorms around 3 p.m., in the second half of the game. Humidity, like Week 1 in Miami, could be a factor, with a relative humidity around 75 percent predicted. But the heat index won’t be nearly as high and a breeze of 10 MPH out of the south should help as well.

The Patriots are looking for their 12th win in 13 lifetime home openers at Gillette Stadium, with their only loss coming in 2012 when the Cardinals stunned them, 20-18, on a missed Stephen Gostkowski field goal at the end.

The Patriots are opening their home schedule against the Raiders for the first time since welcoming Randy Moss and company on Sept. 8, 2005. That night, the Patriots raised their third Super Bowl banner in four seasons, having won the Super Bowl the previous season.

The Patriots are 15-14-1 lifetime against the Raiders in the regular season, having won the last three meetings since Oakland’s 27-20 triumph on Nov. 17, 2002. The Patriots also hold a 2-1 advantage in the postseason.

Read More: New England Patriots, nfl, Oakland Raiders,

Unlucky Seven: Who will end up sitting Sunday against Raiders?

09.21.14 at 7:00 am ET
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James White

James White

The Patriots will announce their inactives 90 minutes before kickoff on Sunday, but based on what we’ve seen this week and the matchup on Sunday, here’s our guess as to which seven players might be inactive:

RB James White: The rookie has been the odd man out over the first two weeks of the season. Unless there’s an unforeseen injury, he could be headed for a redshirt year.

DE Zach Moore: The defensive end was sidelined last week, and given some of the personnel decisions, we think he’s going to end up sitting again this week.

DE Michael Buchanan: The second-year lineman has been out the first two games because of an ankle issue, and the feeling here is that he gets another week on the sidelines to get right before the Patriots open a tougher stretch.

WR Aaron Dobson: The Patriots appear to be carrying an extra wide receiver, and so there might be a healthy scratch each week — last week it was Kenbrell Thompkins. If it isn’t Dobson this week, it could be Brandon LaFell.

C Ryan Wendell: The veteran lineman has struggled with knee issues over the last week., and so Wendell could spend another week on the shelf. (Dan Connolly popped up on the injury report with a knee problem — he’s probable for Sunday — and so he could land on the inactive list instead.)

S Don Jones: The former Dolphins has carved out a nice spot as a special teamer, but popped up on the injury report this week with a hamstring issue and missed Wednesday practice.

LB Jamie Collins: The second-year linebacker missed last week’s game in Minnesota against the Vikings, and his thigh injury left him limited over the course of the week.

For the record, here are the Patriots inactives for the first two weeks of the regular season:

Week 1
DE Michael Buchanan
WR Aaron Dobson
LB Darius Fleming
DT Chris Jones
G Josh Kline
C Bryan Stork
RB James White

Week 2
DE Michael Buchanan
LB Jamie Collins
CB Alfonzo Dennard
DE Zach Moore
WR Kenbrell Thompkins
C Ryan Wendell
RB James White

Week 3 Fantasy Football live chat, 11 a.m.

09.20.14 at 11:13 pm ET
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Join Pete Davidson of and for his weekly fantasy football chat. Let Pete help set your lineup as you storm on into Week 3. It all starts at 11 a.m. Get your questions in now …

Live Blog Fantasy Football Week 3 Chat

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