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Sunday, December 14, 2008
Rapid Reaction: Patriots 49, Raiders 26


 
 AP Photo/George Nikitin
  Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel was exceptional in a 49-26 win over the Raiders less than a week after his father passed away.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Two days before his father's funeral, Matt Cassel staged a wonderful performance to propel the New England Patriots past the Oakland Raiders 49-26 in the rain at McAfee Coliseum.

Cassel had four touchdown passes by the opening drive of the second half. He finished with 218 yards on 18 completions to help the Patriots remain tied with the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins atop the AFC East.

All three teams won Sunday and are 9-5 with two games left.

With the Patriots' postseason hopes on the line, many were concerned if Cassel could cope. The alternative would've been to insert rookie Kevin O'Connell. But Cassel insisted on playing, a decision that inspired his teammates.

Five years ago this month and on the same field, Brett Favre threw four first-half touchdown passes to beat the Raiders the day after his dad died.

Cassel's father, Greg, was found dead early Tuesday morning in his Southern California home. Cassel left the team Wednesday but returned to practice Thursday at San Jose State, where the team worked out in between games against the Seattle Seahawks and Raiders.

The Patriots' offense amassed 487 yards. Sammy Morris ran 14 times for 117 yards and a touchdown. LaMont Jordan ran a dozen times for 97 yards and a touchdown.

Randy Moss, playing in Oakland for the first time since he was traded from there, caught five of Cassel's passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns.