Last Sunday, the Patriots danced around the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City to up their road game winning streak to 13. All around the play on both sides of New England looked consistent (phew!). The team is starting to shape up into the Super Bowl contender we’ve all been waiting for.
Brandin Cooks led the game in passing yards after two huge catches. He ended the night with 6 receptions for 149 yards and 1 touchdown; averaging 24.8 yards per catch. Cooks played efficiently the entire night. In the first half came his first big reception for 52 yards. Brady saw Cooks had a step on his two defenders and made the easy connection.
However, the greatest play of the game came right at the start of the second half. Three plays into their first drive of the half, Brady threw long to Cooks for a 64 yard touchdown; the Patriots’ longest play this season. Following that play, in their next drive, defenders could visibly be seen hanging back from Cooks so they wouldn’t be beaten.
Somehow, Dion Lewis keeps getting better and better. He finished up the game with 10 carries for 60 yards, 4 receptions for 28 yards, and 1 touchdown. Lewis’ versatility on the field is incredible; he just can’t be stopped. Lewis started off the game just as proactive as usual. Within the Patriots’ first drive of the game, Brady faked a pass left then dropped the ball in to Lewis who dusted two defenders for the first touchdown of the game.
Throughout the game, the running back consistently weaved through Oakland’s defensive line for first downs and then some. At times, Lewis would be carrying a defender or two with him as he dragged the ball across the first down marker. At one point in the game, Lewis had the ball and ran so fast his shoe came off! Did he stop pushing? Of course not; and he did get the first down. A very plausible argument can be made that, together, Cooks and Lewis contributed to Oakland’s final decision to fire their defensive coordinator, Ken Norton Jr.
Stephen Gostkowski saw the field many times on Sunday and did a marvelous job as the most consistent player on the New England team. Gostkowski kicked field goals from 62, 51, 40, and 29 yards along with 3 extra point kicks. At the very end of the second quarter, the kicker broke a Patriots’ franchise record with the longest field goal ever made since establishment. The 62 yard-er was also the longest made kick of Gostkowski’s career. Even though, for the most part, his job goes unnoticed by fans, extra points and field goals can make the difference between a win or loss; Super Bowl champion or runner-up.
Considering how awful Patrick Chung has played in past games, he is by no means truly trending down this week. The main reason he is on the list is due to his coming out of the game during the second quarter. Announcers said Chung was taken out of the game due to cramping, and he did return to the field in the Patriots’ next drive. Chung’s performance still isn’t stellar, but as long as small improvements come every week, we won’t complain.
Stephon Gilmore had 5 tackles in this game. Much like Chung, his performance is slowly getting better and the reason he’s trending down has to do with him being taken out of the game. Gilmore was walked to the locker room during the third quarter due to dehydration. This is the second time this season that Gilmore has been sidelined with an avoidable problem. Some critics believe that the altitude had something to do with it, but the fact of the matter is he is a professional athlete who knew he’d be going to play football in a higher elevation than he’s used to. Gilmore should have been prepared. When he did play, for the most part, the cornerback did a good job covering and breaking up potential touchdown passes.
Rex Burkhead upgraded himself to a whole new level of critiquing. Burkhead played decent, but not at the level he’s been playing. He ended the game with 4 receptions for 21 yards. This is in part due to the fact that we didn’t see much of him on the field. When Burkhead was on the field, he didn’t play very well. The most notable mess up came during the Patriots’ first drive of the game. Burkhead ran the ball and had it knocked out and into the hands of a Raider. But then the Raider dropped it and, luckily, Dwayne Allen recovered the ball and possession remained with New England. Had the ball not been recovered, the Patriots wouldn’t have scored and who knows how the momentum of the game could have changed.
Overall, the Patriots team played exceptionally well and no one player did genuinely terrible. This Sunday they will face off against the Miami Dolphins and, potentially, Jay Cutler. Whether Cutler plays or not, this should be an easy win for New England.
-Caitlyn Allen is a Staff Writer for cover32/Patriots and covers the New England Patriots. Like and follow on Twitter and Facebook.