Some observations and thoughts from the New England Patriots’ preseason finale out in the desert against the Las Vegas Raiders as we go through the entire game:
– The Patriots were without a few players on Friday night, with Damien Harris, Devin Asiasi, and Shaun Wade sitting out the finale. Also missing were Kristian Wilkerson, Bill Murray and Harvey Langi. Wilkerson suffered a concussion during joint sessions last week against Carolina, which sparked one of multiple scuffles between the two clubs, so his absence wasn’t unexpected. But Asiasi and Wade’s absence is tough because both are players that were battling for a final roster spot. Wade has had a strong preseason and while Asiasi had come on recently, it will be interesting to see how this affects him.
– It was a tough first series for New England, with the Raiders getting penetration early on, including dropping Rhamondre Stevenson for a loss. They also finished things off by sacking Mac Jones for a loss of 13. That led to a 3-and-out to end the Patriots first offensive series.
– Former quarterback Jarrett Stidham started the game for the Raiders and played well, with Stidham hitting tight end Jesper Horsted for 30-yards. That set up an eventual 23-yard field goal after the defense came up with a nice stop on a 3rd-and-2 at the Patriots’ 5yd line, with Kyle Dugger bursting through to drop running back Zamir White for no gain. The Raiders led this one 3-0 with a little over 2-minutes to go in the opening quarter.
SCORE: 3-0, Raiders – 9:05 left to go in the 1st QTR
– Rookie running back Pierre Strong Jr. saw some time on kickoff returns on Friday night. Strong hadn’t seen a ton of action offensively and had somewhat of a quiet preseason prior to Friday night’s contest, but more on him later on.
– The Patriots got off to a bad start on their ensuing possession as Jones came back out on the field. Michael Onwenu was called for a hold on a run by Ty Montgomery, which put them in a hole. That’s been a theme all preseason, with offensive linemen seemingly making untimely plays at bad moments. However, Jones managed to pick up a first down after hitting Jakobi Meyers and Jonnu Smith for two straight 5-yard passes, followed by a speedy run by the former Alabama QB on a 3rd-and-10 as Jones scrambled to the left and picked up 13-yards, sliding with the football and moving the chains.
– However, Montgomery was injured on the next play, with the running back getting gang-tackled and laying on the turf before eventually leaving the field with an apparent injury to his right leg. He struggled to put weight on it as he came off the field, which wasn’t a great sign. Reports later had him being carted off with an apparent ankle injury.
– Things got worse a couple of plays later, with Jones making a bad read and throwing an interception on a 3rd-and-1 looking at Kendrick Bourne, who was completely surrounded and Jones clearly didn’t see linebacker Luke Masterson (he was screened behind the offensive line), and the Raiders returned it 30-yards down to the New England 32-yard line.
Jones didn’t see Masterson, who was hidden behind the offensive line before he tried to connect with Bourne.
From there, Stidham would come up with a scoring drive after he hit a 20-yard pass, and followed that up two plays later with a 4yd TD run by White to put the Raiders up 10-0. with 3:20 left to go in the first quarter.
10-0, Raiders – 3:20 left to go in the 1st QTR
– On the next possession, Jones took a deep shot to DeVante Parker, but the ball was a little long as Jones was forced to get rid of it relatively quickly after he was hit as cornerback Amik Robertson blitzed from the right and knocked him down on the play. Jones did find Hunter Henry on a 3rd-and-8, but Henry was stopped just short of the marker and New England was forced to punt. Jones wasn’t happy as he came off the field, with the second-year QB being spotted by Phil Perry slamming the tablet behind the bench. Henry coming up short ended up being an omen as Patriots players did a bad job fighting for extra yardage all game against what ended up being a very physical Raiders defense.
– Stidham gave way to Chase Garbers on the next series for Las Vegas. After hitting a 7yd pass on a 2nd-and-10, Matthew Judon ended the drive after chasing Garbers down and forcing him to throw it away on a 3rd-and-3 from the Las Vegas 16yd line. That led to a punt by the Raiders, with Jones and the offense coming back out for one more series.
– Rookie Marcus Jones with a nice punt return, picked up 17-yards before taking a shot as he went down. That gave New England nice field position at their own 37.
– Nice read by Jones on a crossing route as he found Nelson Agholor in stride, with Agholor picking up 13-yards and the first down to move the chains.
– However, after hitting Bourne for 4-yards followed by a 3yd run by J.J. Taylor, they came up empty on a 3rd-and-3 after Jones couldn’t connect on a deep ball to Parker. That led to a 4th down where Bill Belichick kept the offense out on the field. Jones ended up connecting on a 12-yard pass to Bourne to move the chains. It was also a nice throw by Jones, who fired it in between two defenders on the completion to extend the drive. He followed that up with a 16yd completion to Henry, with a pinpoint throw as he was forced to roll right and hit the veteran tight end as he was coming back toward the sideline.
– Jones took a sack on the next play for a loss of 6yds, with Stevenson getting quite a bit of that back and then some on the next play after he picked up 13-yards and nearly had the first down but couldn’t quite keep his feet in bounds. Jones then seemed to have a touchdown to Parker on a fade to the left, but Parker was called for offensive pass interference after the officials believed he pushed off prior to making the catch (the replay showed it was close, but it didn’t seem like a penalty). Jones was then forced to throw it away on the ensuing 3rd-and-13, and New England had to settle for a 35-yard field goal by Nick Folk. Jones then showed some frustration on the sideline, with Perry reporting that Jones threw his wristband with the play calls as he got back to his seat.
Score: 10-3, Raiders – 9:15 left in the 2nd QTR
– The Raiders then went to work, with Garbers hitting Tyron Johnson for a 45-yard pass after he got away from Terrance Mitchell and came up with the reception. That gave the Raiders the ball at the New England 30-yard line. However, Las Vegas would have an apparent conversion called back on a 3rd-and-2 after Nick Bowers was called for offensive holding and the Patriots forced a throwaway on the 3rd-and-12. That led to Daniel Carlson hitting a 50-yard field goal to extend the Raiders’ lead to 13-3.
Score: 13-3, Raiders – 6:39 left to go in the 2nd QTR
– Brian Hoyer came out to start the next drive, ending Jones’ evening. Jones finished the night 9-of-13 for 71yds and his interception. Hoyer started off well, hitting J.J. Taylor on a 2-and-7 for 10-yards to move the chains, but the Raiders tightened up and shut them down after Josh Hammond, who had been 0-for-7 coming into the night, picked up just 5-yards on his reception on a 3rd-and-6. Again, one of several plays where they ended up coming up short. That forced a punt by Jake Bailey, who nailed a 49-yard punt that the Raiders returned 15-yards back to the 22yd line. This time, Las Vegas wasn’t able to get anything going and New England’s defense managed to hold and the Raiders had to punt.
– The next drive didn’t go well. It started off with Hoyer hitting Hammond for 13-yards, but Hoyer was hit as he was getting ready to throw on the next play and lost the football, with Taylor making an unbelievable effort as he was a pretty good distance away yet he somehow managed to come flying in and dive into the fray, which saw him come away with the football. But they couldn’t take advantage and the drive stalled after Hoyer missed Tre Nixon on the 3rd-and-6, with Bailey coming back in with a nice 45-yard punt that saw the Raiders start at their own 27-yard line.
– We saw a nice sack by Daniel Ekuale on this drive with the defensive tackle blasting in on the first down play and dropping Garbers for a 9-yard loss. But Garbers would later connect on an 18-yard toss to Keelan Cole on a 3rd-and-19 against Marcus Jones, who brought him down just short and forced the Raiders to punt to end the half.
Score: 13-3, Raiders – END OF FIRST HALF
– The Raiders started the second-half with the football and the Patriots defense made some nice plays to force a 3-and-out, including a solid effort on a 3rd-and-7 by rookie Jack Jones to knock away the football against Austin Walter. Las Vegas punted the ball away, with Hammond returning the kick 10-yards to give Bailey Zappe and the offense the ball at their own 13-yard line.
– Zappe opened with a 10-yard completion to Hammond, who was immediately met and slammed to the turf but held onto the football. However, after losing three yards on a botched snap exchange, facing a 3rd-and-10 from his own 23, Zappe hit tight end Matt Sokol for 9yds and Sokol was stopped just short of the line to gain, forcing another punt by Bailey.
– Bailey boomed another punt down to the Raiders’ 16yd line as he continues what’s been a nice preseason for him. For Sokol, that play was frustrating because it mirrored the earlier one by Henry where neither player was able to fight for that one final yard to move the chains. Again, that was the theme all night and it will likely make for a long plane ride back to Foxboro.
– Anfernee Jennings started things off well for the defense on the next drive after the Raiders had two decent runs. He dropped Garbers for a sack for a loss of 5yds, which put Las Vegas in a 3rd-and-15 following an incompletion by Garbers to former Patriots WR, Isaiah Zuber. However, Jabril Peppers was called for a questionable unnecessary roughness on the next play after Garbers completed just a 5yd pass and Peppers hit Horsted as he was going out of bounds, with the penalty keeping the drive alive. The Raiders eventually ended up in a 4th-and-1 at midfield and New England’s defense came up with a stop after Mack Wilson and Jeremiah Pharms both broke through and cut running back Brittain Brown down for the stop and turnover on downs.
– Nice start for the offense on the next drive. Zappe hit Nixon for 15-yards on a 2nd-and-10 to move the chains, with rookie Kevin Harris coming up with a nice run for 33-yards. What was impressive there was the fact he blew through the initial contact, breaking tackles and taking the ball down to the Las Vegas 3yd line. Zappe seemed to have a touchdown on the next play after Strong took it in from 3yds out, but tight end Jalen Wydermyer ended up getting called for offensive holding to take the touchdown off the board.
– Zappe then hit Sokol for a gain of 5yds, but Strong was dropped for a loss of 1-yard while trying a run out to the right side. The Raiders were relentless, with their defense seemingly swarming to the football on what seemed like every play.
– The rookie QB then found himself forced to roll to his right on the next play, and Zappe hit Hammond near the sideline, who picked up just 5yds on a 3rd-and-9 from the Raiders’ 9yd line. Hammond was again picked up and slammed down to end the drive, the second time in the contest he took a big shot. Folk came out and drilled the 22yd field goal, but the Patriots still trailed 13-6 with 3:07 left to go in the 3rd quarter.
Score: 13-6, Raiders – 3:07 left in the 3rd QTR
– Garber made a nice throw to start things off on the Raiders’ next drive, finding Cole wide open across the middle to pick up 21-yards, but New England’s defense then stepped up and forced a short throw and then two incompletions, which saw the Raiders end up in a 4th-and-4 where they ended up having to punt near midfield. That field position set up a 35-yard punt that pinned the Patriots in at their own 13-yard line.
– Things went about as bad as could be imagined on that next possession, with Zappe being dropped for a loss of 6yds on the first play. Harris managed to make another nice run for 11-yards, but Zappe couldn’t find Nixon on a deep pass up the left sideline on the 3rd-and-5, which seemingly saw Nixon get held but there was no call. That led to the Patriots seeing Bailey boot a 65-yard punt, but the Raiders returned it 30-yards out to their own 47.
– The ensuing drive was frustrating. Rookie Sam Roberts, who had looked like a force at times throughout the preseason was seemingly brought back down to earth a little bit Friday night. Marcus Jones also made a competitive play against Zuber, but Zuber ended up being the one coming down with the football on a 3rd-and-6 that went for 7yds and extended the drive. The Raiders would eventually go down and finish the drive off with a 33yd field goal from Carlson, which gave Las Vegas a 16-6 edge with 9:07 left to go in the game.
SCORE: 16-6, Raiders – 9:07 left in the 4th QTR
– Strong got the call a lot on this drive. Zappe’s arm was held on a pass attempt to cause an incompletion on first down, but Strong picked up five on the next play and then caught a six-yard pass on the 3rd-and-5 play to keep the drive going. He caught the next pass and picked up seven, and then had a run for four yards that was called back thanks to a holding penalty by Hines. Zappe was then picked off on a horrible throw where he badly overthrew Lil’ Jordan Humphrey on a 2nd-and-13 that landed in the arms of Zuber who was playing defense, giving the Raiders the football at the New England 32-yard line.
– The Raiders took advantage, putting together a 7-play, 32-yard drive that ended with a 3yd run by Brown for the touchdown. That extended the lead to 23-6. Marcus Jones lost a tough match-up against Cole on a 2nd-and-6, which helped set up the first and goal play from the 6yd line prior to the touchdown.
SCORE: 23-6, Raiders – 3:12 left in the 4th QTR
– No push by the offensive line on the first play, with Harris getting dropped for no gain. Zappe hit him for 7yd pass on the next play, with the quarterback following that up with a 17yd completion to Nixon on a 3rd-and-3 after Zappe was forced to scramble and he made a nice throw near the sideline that saw Nixon pick up the first down, which got New England out near midfield at the 49yd line.
– That led to the two-minute warning, but like the rest of the night, things fell apart and ended with a thud. Harris, who had a fairly decent night to this point, lost the football after picking up 10yds, and the Raiders’ Tashawn Bower (former Patriot) ended up recovering the football. That sealed it, as the Raiders ended up kneeling on the football and ran out the clock.
FINAL: 23-6, Raiders
Just an ugly performance by a team that returns to New England with a lot of questions. Hopefully, with two weeks to go back to the drawing board, they’ll figure things out.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: 2022 Patriots Preseason Las Vegas Raiders New England Patriots