For the second straight week, the Patriots outclassed and outperformed their AFC West opponent. The Patriots routed the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City, winning the game 33-8. New England showed the 100,000-plus fans at Estadio Azteca what the golden standard of the NFL looks like.
Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s game
1. Have yourself a day Brandin Cooks!
The Patriots traded for Brandin Cooks earlier this year, forfeiting a first round pick in exchange for the talented but disgruntled playmaker. Cooks has had flashes of brilliance earlier this year (for example, Week 3’s win against the Houston Texans), but at the same time he has been wildly inconsistent. It was clear at the beginning of the season that his chemistry with Tom Brady was a work in progress, as the two often weren’t on the same page. Cooks had a monstrous day against the hapless Oakland secondary, wracking up 6 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown. An interesting fact to note is that Cooks continued his dominance over Oakland from last season, when he was a member of the New Orleans Saints. If Cooks can continue to be a reliable down-field threat for the Pats, it will make it very hard for opposing defenses.
2. Stephen Gostowski was brilliant
Gostowski has been one of the most dependable kickers in the NFL for almost 10 years. However, this narrative changed in 2016, when Gostowski notably struggled kicking the football in several games (including Super Bowl LI). Gostowski has mostly rebounded so far this season, and was remarkable against Oakland. Gostowski went 4/4 yesterday, and his main highlight was a 62-yard field goal, which was the longest in franchise history.
3. The Patriots’ defense continues to dominate
For the 6th straight week, the Patriots’ defense held their opponent under 17 points. The Pats’ secondary continues to play impassioned football, making it hard for the opposing quarterback to be successful. Oakland’s best pass catcher on the day was Michael Crabtree who corralled 5 catches for 51 yards. New England also forced 2 turnovers in the first half, which derailed successful drives for the Raiders. A key play for the Patriots was late in the second quarter, when Oakland was driving to cut their 14 point deficit. The Patriots forced a fumble inside the 5 yard line, giving TB12 and the offense possession with less than a minute left in the first half. The next Patriots drive resulted in Gostowski’s long field goal, giving the Patriots a 17-0 halftime lead. Although the Patriots defense performed remarkably (they didn’t give up any points until the fourth quarter), they need to work on stopping the run. Marshawn Lynch gashed them for 67 yards off 11 carries in the first half. Stopping the run needs to be a priority for the Pats, as they will face LeSean McCoy and Le’Veon Bell in the next few weeks.