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Patriots vs. Raiders: New England’s starters struggle in 23-6 preseason defeat

Related: Pierre Strong Jr., Sam Roberts among Patriots players to watch against the Raiders

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

The New England Patriots’ 2022 preseason is in the books, and it ended in rather disappointing fashion. Despite the team giving its starters plenty of opportunities against the Las Vegas Raiders, the team struggled en route to a 23-6 defeat.

New England therefore ends its exhibition slate with a 1-2 record, and with plenty of questions with 16 days to go until the regular season opener — especially on the offensive side of the ball.

Final score: Patriots (1-2) 6 : 23 Raiders (4-0)

August 19, 8:15 p.m. ET | Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas NV | Broadcast information | Inactives

First quarter

New England received the opening kickoff and it was Mac Jones and the starting offense taking the field early. Coming out in a 12-personnel look, the unit started with a promising completion to DeVante Parker before back-to-back negative plays: first Rhamondre Stevenson was stopped for a loss of 4 before a 13-yard sack against Jones. Out came Jake Bailey with the punt team.

Things did not go much better for the Patriots starting defense, which gave up a plays of 5, 14 and 30 yards to allow Jarrett Stidham and Las Vegas’ offense to move into the red area quickly. While the unit did force a stop on third down eventually, the Raiders still took a 3-0 lead on a 23-yard field goal. | Patriots 0 : 3 Raiders

New England’s second possession also saw the starters take the field. Improvement compared to the first series was, if anything, marginal. The unit started with a 10-yard holding penalty on Michael Onwenu, but did avoid going three-and-out again thanks to a Mac Jones scramble. What followed, however, was a rough sequence of plays: first, Ty Montgomery went down with an injury and had to be assisted off the field; later, Jones threw a bad interception to end the drive.

Las Vegas took over at the New England 32-yard line and did not take long to reach the end zone. Five plays after the pick, rookie running back Zamir White reached the end zone from 4 yard out to put his team — playing primarily its backups against the Patriots starters — up by the 10 points. | Patriots 0 : 10 Raiders

The Patriots responded by keeping their starts on the field for a third series, but it also ended quickly. An incomplete deep shot to DeVante Parker was followed by a short Rhamondre Stevenson run, which was followed by a 7-yard completion to Hunter Henry on 3rd-and-8. The punt team came out again.

While Las Vegas brought on third-string quarterback Chase Garbers on its third drive, New England kept its starting defense on the field. The unit was able to force a three-and-out of its own, with a stuffed run and incomplete pass bookending a 7-yard catch and run.

Second quarter

New England opened the second quarter with a 17-yard punt return by rookie Marcus Jones, followed by the starting offense taking the field once more. Mac Jones and company looked a bit better, but still had to use all four downs at one point to keep the drive alive. A 12-yard completion to Kendrick Bourne on 4th-and-3 moved the chains, but the drive eventually stalled after a DeVante Parker offensive pass interference negated a touchdown catch. Nick Folk then put the team on the board from 35 yards out. | Patriots 3 : 10 Raiders

New England started to mix some backups in on its next defensive drive, but the group immediately gave up a 45-yard completion on an apparent miscommunication between Terrance Mitchell and Adrian Phillips. The team eventually held Las Vegas to a 50-yard field goal, but a first-down-negating penalty by the Raiders offense contributed in doing so. | Patriots 3 : 13 Raiders

At that point, Mac Jones’ night was officially over. With him and the rest of the starting offense on the bench, Brian Hoyer took over at quarterback. The unit itself did not fare much better, picking up one first down on a throw to J.J. Taylor before having to send out Jake Bailey for another punt.

New England’s defense then forced a quick three-and-out, but the offense could not capitalize — and things could have gotten a lot worse than the eventual Jake Bailey punt: two plays earlier, Justin Herron was beaten for a strip sack with J.J. Taylor coming up with the football to keep New England in possession of the ball.

The next drive, and the first half as a whole, ended with the Patriots defense forcing another punt. A 9-yard sack by Daniel Ekuale set the tone early on.

Third quarter

New England opened the second half on defense, with the unit again forcing a quick punt. The pivotal play of the series was rookie cornerback Jack Jones forcing a fumble on third down to bring out the Raiders punt team. Unfortunately, the offense and rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe fared no better and went three-and-out as well.

The Patriots defense made another stand on its next drive, with rookie defensive tackle Jeremiah Pharms Jr. standing his ground on back-to-back plays. The second of those saw him shut down a running attempt on 4th-and-1 to force a turnover on downs at the New England 49-yard line.

Zappe then led the troops to their second score of the night, a 22-yard Nick Folk field goal. With fellow rookie Kevin Harris shouldering most of the load on the series thanks to a 33-yard carry, the Patriots found themselves in a 1st-and-goal situation at the Raiders 3. They only went backward at that point — including due to another touchdown-negating penalty, this one a hold on tight end Jaylen Wydermyer — before settling for three points. | Patriots 6 : 13 Raiders

Fourth quarter

After the two teams exchanged punts on their ensuing possessions to close out quarter No. 3, the Raiders extended their lead on the next series. Sparked by 30-yard punt return to set things up, they drove into the red area one short gain at a time. A 33-yard field goal made it a two-possession game again. | Patriots 6 : 16 Raiders

New England’s next possession saw the team find some early rhythm. However, a Chasen Hines penalty disrupted the momentum before a bad Bailey Zappe interception intended for Lil’Jordan Humphrey killed it altogether. The turnover then allowed the Raiders to add to their lead, scoring a 3-yard rushing touchdown. | Patriots 6 : 23 Raiders

The Patriots offense took over with 3:12 left in the game, but just inside the two-minute warning had to leave the field again. Once again, ball security was to blame: Kevin Harris lost the ball after a 10-yard carry, with ex-Patriot Tashawn Bower recovering the fumble to give the Raiders possession.

Las Vegas knelt out the game, ending what had been a disappointing night on top of an up-and-down joint practice week for the Patriots.