OAKLAND -- Rapid reaction from the New England Patriots’ 31-19 win over the Oakland Raiders:
What it means: The Patriots improve to 3-1, while the Raiders -- who were using this game as a measuring stick to see where they stand in the AFC -- drop to 2-2. The Patriots took advantage of the Raiders' penalties and turnovers to post the win. The defense looked vulnerable for large stretches of the game, but provided enough resistance in critical situations, while also benefiting from a few Raiders gifts. This wasn’t a convincing effort, but the Patriots will obviously take it.
Injury to Mayo a top story: Patriots defensive captain Jerod Mayo left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury and did not return. He had to be carted to the locker room at halftime. The Pro Bowl linebacker plays every snap, leads the huddle, and also tops the team in tackles. In addition to Mayo, running back Danny Woodhead limped off at the end of the second quarter and did not return.
Turning point at end of half: Much like last week’s game in Buffalo, a key turning point came at the end of the first half, and this time it went in the Patriots’ favor. The Raiders were driving with a chance to go ahead 17-14 when Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell gift-wrapped an interception to safety Patrick Chung in the end zone. The Patriots drove down for a field goal in what was a 10-point swing, and then got the ball at the start of the third quarter and scored a touchdown (24-10).
Welker simply remarkable: What else can be said when it comes to Wes Welker? At the quarter-point of the season, he has had an MVP-worthy stretch. He finished with nine catches for 158 yards and a touchdown today. When the Patriots need a big play, it’s usually Tom Brady looking to Welker.
Ridley continues to rise; running game shows life: Rookie running back Stevan Ridley (10 carries, 97 yards, TD) had his best day as a pro, getting his most extended playing time and contributing with an impressive 33-yard touchdown run in the second half. Ridley played five snaps in the first half, but saw more time in the second half as Danny Woodhead was sidelined with an injury. Overall, the Patriots’ running game was a big part of the victory, with BenJarvus Green-Ellis (16 carries, 75 yards and a TD) also running well. The Patriots were balanced and answered the physical challenge.
Turns out Seymour helps Patriots: Former Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour helped the Patriots, as he was flagged for unnecessary roughness and a face mask on the Patriots’ first drive. The Raiders had seized some early momentum at that point, but Seymour gave it back. It might have been a case of him being too fired up to play his former team.
Another INT for Wilfork: The Patriots’ secret weapon on pass defense? That would be 6-foot-2, 325-pound defensive lineman Vince Wilfork. For the second time in three weeks, Wilfork had an interception, this one coming in the fourth quarter on a short pass across the middle. Given the team’s thinned depth at cornerback … (sarcasm intended).
Raiders not yet in the elite discussion: After beating the Jets last week, the Raiders had their fans excited that perhaps they were ready to enter the discussion of the AFC’s top teams. But their undisciplined and sloppy play in this game made them look like the “same-old” Raiders.
What’s next: The Patriots host the Jets next Sunday (4:15 p.m.). It will be the Jets’ third straight road game.