The mistakes the Las Vegas Raiders did so well avoiding in winning the first two weeks piled up in New England.
A fumble in the red zone, two more fumbles on sacks, a couple of key penalties and missed assignments on defense.
It all added up to a 36-20 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday that dealt the Raiders their first loss of the season and showed the team still has plenty of work to do to go from also-ran to contender in the AFC.
“Everyone took turns today,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “We lost the turnover battle and we lost the situational battle. That’s all it is. It’s one game. If we’re going to blow up everything after the good things that we’ve done after one game, then this game ain’t for some of those people. We are just fine. We’re going to be fine.”
For a while, it looked as if the Raiders (2-1) would be fine against the Patriots. They controlled play early but only led 3-0 because of a fumble in the red zone by Josh Jacobs.
A perfectly executed 75-yard drive in the final minute of the first half cut New England’s lead to 13-10 on Carr’s 1-yard TD pass to Foster Moreau.
The Raiders started with the ball in the second and missed a 41-yard field goal by Daniel Carlson on the opening drive, went three-and-out on the next possession and then settled for a field goal inside the 10 after that.
With New England scoring two TDs and a field goal in that span, the game quickly got out of hand and then Carr’s fumble that Deatrich Wise recovered for a touchdown turned it into a rout.
“Definitely frustrating because we know we could be better,” Jacobs said. “We know there are a lot of things we should have done better. But credit to them, they capitalized on our mistakes.”
The Raiders were extremely efficient the first two games. They scored 34 points each in wins over Carolina and New Orleans, turned the ball over only once and had the second fewest penalties in the league with six.
They had six TDs and two field goals on eight red zone drives, fixing a major flaw from last year. They failed to score on two drives that got inside the 25 and settled for two field goals, leaving too many points on the field.
They also had six more penalties, extending drives for the Patriots and making it harder on the offense.
“It’s frustrating, but also encouraging because we know if we don’t make those mistakes, we put ourselves in a chance to be competitive,” receiver Hunter Renfrow said. “If we can control what we can control and go out there and take care of the ball and protect the quarterback and make some catches, then we’ll have a good chance of winning.”
The Raiders did show some encouraging signs on defense early after being gashed too often the first two games. La Vegas allowed only six points on New England’s first five drives before allowing four straight possessions, outside of a kneel down at the end of the first half, to go at least 60 yards and lead to 24 points.
The Patriots ran for 250 yards, led by 117 on nine carries for Sony Michel, and Rex Burkhead added 98 yards from scrimmage and three TDs as the focus on Cam Newton left way too many holes for the New England running backs.
“When you hand the ball off and there’s nobody there, it’s a lot more than that,” coach Jon Gruden said. “I give Cam credit, give the Patriots credit. We got to take a good look at what happened on those plays. Obviously, we did miss some tackles and we had a couple players out of their gap.”
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