OAKLAND -- Wearing a protective hard cast over his surgically-repaired right thumb, the only way Patrick Chung was going to catch an interception was if the ball floated right to him.
And then, with New England nursing a four-point cushion midway through the second quarter, it did.
Chung got a gift-wrapped interception in the back of the New England end zone late in the first half when Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell inexplicably lobbed a pass right at him on second-and-goal from the Patriots 6. New England turned the miscue into a field goal before the intermission, scored on its first possession of the second half, and the game was never close again as the Patriots emerged with a 31-19 triumph at O.co Coliseum.
Asked if he could believe Campbell's pass came right to him, Chung admitted: "I really can’t. But he threw it, so I had to catch it. That’s what happens when opportunities come along, you have to be prepared."
After sitting out last week's loss in Buffalo, Chung was happy simply to be back on the field and making an impact. He solidified the safety spot -- even with the cumbersome cast -- registering four tackles and the interception.
But in typical Patriots fashion, Chung was already looking ahead to the next challenge.
"It feels good, we got a win, we'll celebrate tonight and then just forget about it," he said. "We have to get ready for the Jets. We have a good team coming in next week."
Chung's presence helped solidify a dinged-up defensive unit that watched captain Jerod Mayo suffer a seemingly serious left knee injury in the first half.
"I don’t know what’s going on with [the injury]," said Chung. "This game, it definitely hurt us. But we trust the guys that are coming in there."