Rex Burkhead's career day helps Patriots run over Raiders
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Cam Newton won’t always look like Superman. That was clear on Sunday inside Gillette Stadium.
Through the first two weeks, the Patriots quarterback had been completing just over 71% of his passes and was also running over opposing defensive players. Newton looked dominant and back to his MVP ways with his new Patriots teammates. On Sunday afternoon, we witnessed what would happen when this veteran quarterback didn’t look like he could leap tall buildings in a single bound.
The Las Vegas Raiders might have frustrated Newton on this day, but the Patriots responded by pounding the defense with their run game. Led by Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel and J.J. Taylor, the Patriots didn’t need Newton to be a superhero on Sunday in their 36-20 win over the Raiders. Instead, it was Burkhead who looked otherworldly.
The Pats improved to 2-1 behind Burkhead, who scored a career-best three total touchdowns to go with seven receptions and 49 rushing yards. Michel (117 rushing yards) and Taylor (41 rushing yards) also pitched in. The trio helped move the chains all day as Newton went 17-for-28 for 162 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
The Patriots defense kept the team in this contest early.
At 3:20 of the first quarter, Shilique Calhoun forced a fumble by Josh Jacobs and J.C. Jackson recovered the ball. This happened with the Raiders 12 yards away from the end zone. However, Newton gave the ball right back to the Raiders when he forced a throw to Devin Asiasi, and didn’t see Raiders safety Jonathan Abrams. At 2:08 of the first, Abrams came away with the interception. That set up a Daniel Carlson 29-yard field goal and Las Vegas led, 3-0.
The Patriots offense showed some life on the next drive to tie the game, 3-3, at 12:32 of the second quarter. Taylor jump-started the drive with three carries for 17 yards. A facemask penalty on the Raiders also gave the Pats another 15 yards. Add on a 13-yard run by undrafted receiver Isaiah Zuber and that was enough to set up a 33-yard Nick Folk field goal.
The Patriots defense stepped up again on the next drive. At 12:40 of the second quarter, Chase Winovich strip-sacked Derek Carr. Lawrence Guy recovered the ball.
The offense leaned heavily on their run game as Taylor and Burkhead brought the Pats to the 5-yard line. After five-straight runs and two first downs, the Pats tried to get the ball in the end zone via the air, but had no luck. That set up a Folk 23-yard field goal at 7:56 of the second quarter.
Newton threw his first touchdown pass of the game with 34 seconds left in the half to give the Patriots a 13-3 lead. The quarterback hit Damiere Byrd for a gain of 23 to push the Pats to within striking distance. On third down, Newton hit Burkhead with a screen pass. The back made a nice jump cut to get near the goal line where he leaped over several Raiders to score an 11-yard touchdown.
The momentum didn’t last long. The Raiders traveled 75 yards in 28 seconds to score a touchdown with six seconds left in the half. After Hunter Renfrow was ruled down on a 27-yard catch, Carr came back on the next play and hit Foster Moreau for the 1-yard touchdown and the Pats went into halftime with a 13-10 lead.
The Raiders failed to score to open the second half when Carlson missed a 41-yard field goal at 10:48 of the third. The Patriots took the ball back and increased their lead to 20-10 on the ensuring series. Michel jump-started the drive with a 38-yard run. Burkhead finished it with a 5-yard touchdown run, his second of the game, at 6:41 of the third quarter.
The Patriots ground game continued to give the Raiders fits as they extend their lead to 23-10. Michel got the next drive moving with a career-long 48-yard rush to the 13-yard line. The Pats wouldn’t get much farther and Folk hit the 32-yard field goal at 1:28 of the third quarter.
The Pats defense bent but didn’t break on the next drive as the Raiders closed the gap to 23-13 with a 25-yard field goal from Carlson with 11:22 left in the game.
Burkhead wasn’t done torturing the Las Vegas defense. With 5:17 left in the game, the running back scored his third touchdown of the afternoon. Burkhead moved the chains twice on the drive with an 11-yard reception and then a 14-yard run. He capped it off with a 2-yard rushing touchdown to give the Patriots a 29-13 advantage. Folk missed the extra point.
The Patriots defense extended the lead to 36-13 when Calhoun stripped Carr of the ball in the end zone. Deatrich Wise jumped on it for a touchdown with 5:10 left in the game.
The Raiders scored one last touchdown with Renfrow hauling in a 13-yard touchdown with 1:54 remaining.