Four months removed from joint practices and the preseason finale, Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels and a long line of connections met again at Allegiant Stadium.
Here’s a glance back as the AFC East visitors return home with a 7-7 record and dwindling wild-card playoff hopes.
Jones goes 13-of-31 passing as New England’s No. 1 wideout returns
New England’s first drive featured a first down. The next drive spanned seven minutes before ending at the goal line as a timeout and a false start both wiped out six. And the next brought an overthrow, a delay of game, a drop and a punt.
Mac Jones finished 13-of-31 passing for 112 yards on Sunday. But the sophomore quarterback had his top wide receiver back in the route tree. The presence of Jakobi Meyers, who missed consecutive starts while in the NFL’s concussion protocol, led to two drawn penalties as well as pivotal moments for both sides in the final frame.
One catch for 39 yards set up a two-point conversion and a 24-17 lead over Las Vegas that soon became 24-24. And yet a backwards pass at midfield set up the difference. Former Patriots first-round pick Chandler Jones picked the football up from 48 yards away as time expired in regulation.
Barmore back into the pass-rushing rotation against Carr
As offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn headed to injured reserve on the eve of the 4:05 p.m. ET kickoff, defensive tackle Christian Barmore returned from it. Another layer of pass rush was the result on Sunday. The 2021 second-round pick out of Alabama checked in by the second snap of the Raiders’ opening drive. From there, he had a hand three tackles, a penalty-negated hit as well as a sack split with the reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Fellow defensive tackles Lawrence Guy and Davon Godchaux shared the first sack. But the pressure that didn’t hit home left a mark. That was illustrated on zone blitzes. That was illustrated as defensive backs fired from the slot on third downs that became incompletions. And that was also illustrated as outside linebacker Josh Uche bent by left tackle Kolton Miller on a takedown by inside linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr went 20-of-38 passing for 231 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. His final throw went to wide receiver Keelan Cole. From 30 yards out, and after further review, it tied the game at 24-24 with 32 seconds left in regulation.
Sixth-rounder starts, Stevenson finishes with 172 rushing yards
An ankle injury restricted Rhamondre Stevenson to 13 offensive snaps in New England’s 27-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals last Monday night at State Farm Stadium. But the running back returned despite beginning the short week as a non-participant and finishing it as a limited participant.
With a lateral marking his last touch, Stevenson totaled 19 carries for 172 yards in Las Vegas. A gain of 26 would be among them with the uprights at his back. So would a touchdown from 34 yards out to give New England the lead with 3:43 to go on the game clock. The Centennial High School alum showed with the same contact balance as before. And he did so alongside a pair of rookies who had scored their first NFL touchdowns the game before.
Sixth-round pick Kevin Harris started. Fourth-rounder Pierre Strong Jr. spelled. With Damien Harris downgraded from questionable to out the afternoon prior, the South Carolina and South Dakota State products combined for 56 yards from scrimmage.
Patriots’ punt protection snaps at the half
It had been 134 games since the Raiders last blocked a punt. But 2014 met 2022 with 35 seconds remaining before halftime on Sunday.
Defensive end Malcolm Koonce charged around the edge to get hands on Michael Palardy’s punt. Other hands were in the air at the time for the Patriots. The protection was not set when the football left the hands of long snapper Joe Cardona.
Back-to-back defensive holding penalties followed before a five-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mack Hollins did. And the deficit went from 10-3 to 17-3 going into intermission.
NFL’s ground leader goes for 93 yards on 22 carries
Josh Jacobs entered Sunday in the NFL lead with 1,402 rushing yards and within shouting distance with 11 rushing touchdowns. He soon met a New England defense standing third in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and tied for first in scores allowed by ground.
The initial series saw the Las Vegas running back pick up 34 yards through a handful of handoffs. Those handoffs included a long of 18 en route to a field goal forced by offensive penalties.
Jacobs, who set the single-game franchise record last month, went on log 93 yards on the ground for an average of 4.2 yards per.
Restocked Raiders trio faces shorthanded secondary
The Raiders officially activated slot receiver Hunter Renfrow and tight end Darren Waller from injured reserve on Saturday. And on Sunday, the past Pro Bowlers had a hand in four receptions for 62 yards and one touchdown against a shorthanded secondary.
Without veteran Jalen Mills and rookie Jack Jones, the Patriots went forward with the starting speed of Marcus Jones and Jonathan Jones at cornerback in the nickel. But a perennial first-team All-Pro wideout went forward quietly.
Davante Adams corralled four passes for 28 yards over the course of nine throws sent his direction. One of which fell incomplete deep down the seam with a pass breakup from the No. 85 overall pick in April’s draft. Another fell into the grasp of the beelining Kyle Dugger on a quick throw to the sideline that became an interception for a touchdown. From 16 yards away, the return marked the ex-Lenoir-Rhyne safety’s second score of the campaign. It cut New England’s deficit to one score in the third quarter.
Offensive line concedes zero sacks to Las Vegas
Conor McDermott again got the starting nod at right tackle for New England. The November signing off the New York Jets’ practice squad got it against a defensive end with 36.5 sacks through 62 career games.
Maxx Crosby had three quarterback hits on Sunday. And after halftime, the aforementioned Chandler Jones batted down an RPO at the line and bypassed left tackle Trent Brown for a hit on third down before scoring his game-winning touchdown.
No sacks were registered by the Raiders. Two tight ends, chipping help and the running game played a part in keeping that disruption manageable. But manageable proved to be not enough on an afternoon kicker Nick Folk delivered three field goals, including a 54-yarder.