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Patriots roll, hand mistake-prone Raiders first loss

Updated September 27, 2020 - 4:40 pm

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Raiders fell back into some bad habits Sunday against the New England Patriots, with penalties, turnovers and sloppy play costing them in a 36-20 loss that exposed some major concerns.

The smart, efficient play that marked their first two wins was nowhere to be found. Instead the Raiders squandered several scoring opportunities, repeatedly turned the ball over, struggled to convert on third down and were overwhelmed by New England’s rushing attack.

The Raiders were among the most efficient teams in the NFL after the first two weeks, but that came to a screeching halt amid three turnovers, six penalties and five trips to the red zone that produced just 13 points.

A slew of unforced errors with the game on the line sabotaged the Raiders.

They included:

— A first-quarter lost fumble by Josh Jacobs at the Patriots’ 12-yard line that denied the Raiders key points.

— An illegal man downfield penalty on tackle Denzelle Good to wipe out a key first down that would have set the Raiders up with a first-and- goal at the Patriots’ 3-yard-line. Instead, the Raiders could not convert on third-and-eight and had to settle for a field goal rather than a touchdown.

— A lost fumble by Derek Carr in the second quarter that set up Patriots at the Raiders’ 42-yard-line, leading to a New England field goal to go-ahead 6-3.

— And finally, Daniel Carlson missing a game-tying 41-yard field on the opening drive of the third quarter. The Patriots scored a touchdown on their ensuing drive to go up 20-10.

That is in addition to the Raiders converting just 3 of 9 third downs and surrendering 250 yards rushing.

That simply can’t happen against a quality opponent.

“Not against the New England Patriots,” said Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. “Not against anybody.”

Said tight end Foster Moreau: “You’re not going to win many football games turning the ball over as many times as we did today. You gotta get in the red zone. You gotta score points.”

It was all the more disappointing given how the Raiders averaged 6.9 yards per play, were essentially even in total offense and remained in striking distance deep into the second half. They just couldn’t get out of their own way at times.

“We thought that was a really winnable game,” defensive end Maxx Crosby said. “We were in a good situation and we didn’t come through, We just gotta get better. There’s no excuses.”

And yet, as the Raiders prepared to board their flight home to Las Vegas, there was a sense of hopefulness.

“If we went out there and weren’t able to do one single thing right, then there’s a problem. Then we gotta look at the film,” said Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. “Everyone took turns today. We lost the turnover battle and we lost the situational battle. And that’s all it is. And it’s one game.”

Added wide receiver Hunter Renfrow: “It’s frustrating, but also encouraging because we know if we don’t make those mistakes we (give) ourselves a good chance to be competitive.”

It wasn’t just that the Raiders failed to stop the run and surrendered two touchdowns on the ground. It was the handful of times they left gaps uncovered with blown assignments, the numerous tackles they missed and the poor angles they took pursuing ball carriers.

“Obviously we missed some tackles and we had a couple of players out of their gap.” said Raiders head coach Jon Gruden.

All of which left the frustrated Raiders wondering what exactly went wrong.

“I think it’s just discipline,” said Crosby. “It goes for the whole defense. We gotta be in our gaps and do our jobs, make tackles. And we’re not doing a good enough job of that right now.”

The Raiders were down three starters against the Patriots — right tackle Trent Brown, left guard Richie Incognito and middle linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski — and key offensive line reserve Sam Young.

By the end of Sunday’s game, rookie wide receiver Bryan Edwards was hobbled by a leg injury that at one point forced him to the locker room, and rookie cornerback Damon Arnette had to briefly leave the game to get treatment on his fractured right thumb.

“You start to wonder what the hell is going on,” Gruden said. “But this is the National Football League. It’s for mentally tough men.”

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

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