The New England Patriots did not play very good football today, but they managed to hold on for a 16-9 victory over the Oakland Raiders in their season opener. Here are a few quick thoughts from the game:
- Terrible, ugly, inconsistent game from the offense - and it all starts with the offensive line. For the second time in three weeks, the Patriots' protection was hard to watch. The Patriots made a struggling, injury depleted Raiders front seven look very good. Khalil Mack absolutely burned Nate Solder on one speed rush. Antonio Smith successfully bull-rushed both Dan Connolly and Sebastian Vollmer sack. Jordan Devey once again performed like a sub-replacement level player. Things may have improved a bit when Bryan Stork etnered the game late, but things need to improve, and quickly, if this is going to be a good football team.
- Quarterback Tom Brady was inconsistent. He missed several first half throws, and was just off. His play began to steadily improve in the second half, and he finally hit a couple of downfield throws. But there was never really a sense that he was truly comfortable in this game. Once again, Julian Edelman was the focal point of the passing game. But hey, at least Brandon LaFell had three catches.
- Also have to give Brady credit for his block on a 4th quarter Shane Vereen run. Vereen reversed field, and Brady led the way for him with an all-out lunging block on a Raiders' defensive back. Got to love that intensity.
- Defensively, things were a bit up and down as well. The defensive line generally controlled the line of scrimmage despite Sealver Siliga leaving the game with an injury early. Vince Wilfork consistently got some push, and the Patriots had excellent linebacker play from Dont'a Hightower and Jerod Mayo.
- In the passing game, Derek Carr generally took what the Patriots defense gave him, and stayed mistake free until the final drive. Carr wasn't afraid to target Darrelle Revis, and he had a lot of success doing so. While Revis struggled, the Patriots got some strong play from Kyle Arrington and Patrick Chung. Patriots couldn't come up with a sack, and Chandler Jones was contained for the most part by Donald Penn. However, it is worth noting that he had two great pass deflections at the line of scrimmage.
- The Patriots struggled to finish drives, and this was an overall ugly game that included six field goals and only one touchdown (Brady to Rob Gronkowski). The Raiders nearly tied the game after a terrible, blown pass interference call on Logan Ryan resulted in a first and goal for the Raiders with just over a minute to play. However, a holding call pushed the Raiders back. The Patriots sealed the game with a fat guy interception from Vince Wilfork off a deflection. Yes it was ugly. But a win is a win.
What are your initial thoughts from the game?