Patriots To Face a Hungry Oakland Team

The New England Patriots could have a very tough time in Oakland as they face a hungry Raiders team desperate to show they're ready for the next level.

For once, all the attention isn't going toward quarterback Tom Brady -- even with his new haircut. This week, the focus is on defense, or, in the New England Patriots' case, lack thereof.

   Through three games, the Patriots are one of the NFL's worst defensive teams, and on Sunday they'll face another challenge against the Oakland Raiders, who lead the league in rushing.

   While it's impossible to pinpoint the exact problem, linebacker Jerod Mayo pointed to the team's inability to make stops on third down as a reason why opponents sustain so many long drives.

   "We have a lot of work to do," Mayo said, "and hopefully it happens this week."

   What's even more alarming is the number of big plays the Patriots have allowed, with a play longer than 20 yards falling under this category. The Bills torched them several times last weekend in an eventual 34-31 win for Buffalo, including Fred Jackson's long carry to the 1-yard line in the closing seconds that set up the winning field goal.

   "You just have to make plays on the ball," Mayo said. "Big plays have been killing us. That's one of the main priorities in practice this week -- stopping the big play and getting off the field."

   Things won't get any easier this week as the Patriots prepare to face star running back Darren McFadden, who is enjoying a breakout season through the Raiders' first three games.

   "McFadden's a great guy with the ball in his hands," Mayo said. "Tackling will be an issue and we'll be practicing that as well. Hopefully we can do good this week.

   "Sometimes, you can be disappointed in the things that we do, but at the same time you have to go back and watch the film and make corrections. It's a unit. We're a family on the defensive side of the ball. We know that and we're practicing hard."


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The Bills torched them several times last weekend in an eventual 34-31 win for Buffalo, including Fred Jackson's long carry to the 1-yard line in the closing seconds that set up the winning field goal.    \"You just have to make plays on the ball,\" Mayo said. \"Big plays have been killing us. That's one of the main priorities in practice this week -- stopping the big play and getting off the field.\"    Things won't get any easier this week as the Patriots prepare to face star running back Darren McFadden, who is enjoying a breakout season through the Raiders' first three games.    \"McFadden's a great guy with the ball in his hands,\" Mayo said. \"Tackling will be an issue and we'll be practicing that as well. Hopefully we can do good this week.    \"Sometimes, you can be disappointed in the things that we do, but at the same time you have to go back and watch the film and make corrections. It's a unit. We're a family on the defensive side of the ball. 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