Pats @ Raiders First Half Thoughts
As the New England Patriots head to halftime of their Week 11 game with the Oakland Raiders, in Mexico City, with a 17-0 lead, here are some first half thoughts:
A Dominant Start- The Patriots put together a dominant first drive, moving the ball 87 yards on 15 plays for a touchdown. On the drive, quarterback Tom Brady paced the offense, completing all nine of his pass attempts for 61 yards including a 15-yard touchdown pass to running back Dion Lewis. Brady completed passes to six different receivers, including Danny Amendola, who caught two balls for 22 yards on third down plays. Despite a mid-drive fumble by running back Rex Burkhead that was alertly scooped up by Dwayne Allen, the start couldn't have gone any better for New England.
Turnovers tell The Difference- As mentioned in this week's Pats Preview, the two teams have gone in completely different directions, in terms of turnovers, this season. New England entered the game with a +6 differential, while Oakland entered with a -7 mark. Those stats held true, as Oakland turned the ball over on their second drive of the game, a drive in which they had been moving the ball. The Pats did have a first half fumble, but tight end Dwayne Allen was able to jump on the ball and keep possession on what ended up being a scoring drive. Late in the second quarter, the Raiders turned the ball over again, on a fumble inside the New England 10-yard line. Oakland had moved the ball successfully down the field and looked poised to close out the half with at least a field goal, but instead lost the ball and a scoring opportunity.
Putting On A Clinic- Throughout the first two quarters of play, Tom Brady put on a clinic, picking apart the Raiders' porous secondary. After going a perfect nine for nine on the team's opening drive of the game, Brady continued to dominate the Oakland defense. The 40-year-old completed his first 12 pass attempts of the game, to tie a personal regular season record. He finished up the first half going 20 of 24 for 201 yards and two touchdowns.
Third Down Success- Most of the Patriots' offensive success can be attributed to top notch execution on third down. Brady and company converted five of their six third down opportunities in the first half. Three of the conversions went to trusty wide out Danny Amendola, who caught three passes for 27 yards and a touchdown on those three third down plays he was targeted on.
Special Teams Success- The Pats got a heck of a boot out of their veteran kicker, Stephen Gostkowski. After getting the ball back, off of a fumble, late in the second quarter, the Pats drove down to the Oakland 45-yard line. That set up a 62-yard attempt for Gostkowski, who used the high level of altitude in Mexico to drive the ball straight through the uprights. The kicker, who has struggled a bit over the past couple of seasons based on his standards, might have been able to knock it through from 7o yards out, as the ball sailed well over the crossbar.
Mexico Loves The Pats- Though it is considered a home game for the Raiders, the Pats might have the home field advantage. The fans in Mexico had a steady chant of BRA-DY going strong throughout the first half and seemed to create quite a stir on each of New England's scoring drives.