PASSING OFFENSE: A -- This wasn't one of those gaudy video-game performances from QB Tom Brady, but 16-for-30 for 226 yard and two touchdowns is nothing to scoff at. It's easy to get spoiled by Brady, but even on days when he doesn't have to shoulder the entire load, he is still remarkably efficient.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A-plus -- Sunday's performance by Stevan Ridley and BenJarvus Green-Ellis was as good as it gets and as good as it will probably get for the remainder of the year. Ridley finished with 97 yards on 10 carries. Both running backs scored a touchdown and controlled the pace of the game. This is the ideal scenario for the Patriots; for once, they had balance.
PASS DEFENSE: C -- Sure, most of the yardage came in garbage time, but depending on how you view it, garbage time shouldn't necessarily equal an overflow of points. Even at times when the Patriots know what's coming, they still can't make stops. Allowing 504 total yards -- 344 through the air -- against Oakland is barely worthy of a passing grade.
RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The key to the game was stopping Darren McFadden, and the Patriots did just that. McFadden finished with 75 yards, but 41 came on one carry. He was a non-factor early and ultimately became a side note once the game got out of control.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Not much in the return game on either side. Zoltan Mesko continued his excellent punting, averaging 43 yards per kick. Special teams turned out to be a non-factor, which is always worth an "A" for effort.
COACHING: A -- The Patriots took advantage of Oakland's porous run defense and attacked the front seven from the get-go. The Patriots exploited a weakness and used it to their advantage.
|Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots can't hold on to this pass over Tyvon Branch #33 of the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter during an NFL football game at O.co Coliseum on October 2, 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)|
RAIDERS REPORT CARD VS. PATRIOTS
PASSING OFFENSE: D-plus -- Lots of yards (344), but the only touchdown pass by Jason Campbell came on a 6-yard pass to Denarius Moore when the game was decided. The first interception by Campbell, to Patrick Chung in the end zone, put the brakes on the Raiders' momentum. There was a second one to retreating nose tackle Vince Wilfork.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus -- The Raiders were effective running in the first half but were forced to chase the Patriots' lead in the second, abandoning the run. Oakland finished with 160 yards on 27 carries, including 74 by Darren McFadden, who had eight carries for 57 yards in the first half. The Raiders had 124 of their 160 rushing yards in the first half.
PASS DEFENSE: C -- Wes Welker was unstoppable with nine catches for 158 yards, but it's worth noting he's doing that to every team he plays. No other receiver had more than two catches. The Raiders "held" Tom Brady to a season-low 226 yards, although part of that was New England's persistence with a successful running game.
RUSH DEFENSE: D -- The Patriots, who came in as a passing team, rushed for 183 yards on 30 carries and averaged 6.1 yards per carry. Stevan Ridley had 97 yards on 10 carries -- including a 33-yard touchdown run -- and BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 75 yards on 16 attempts. Lots of missed tackles.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- No fireworks as yet from the return game. Jacoby Ford had a 27-yard kickoff return, but he fielded it 9 yards deep in the end zone. Taiwan Jones' best kickoff return was 16 yards. Shane Lechler punted twice for a 44.5-yard net, and Sebastian Janikowski hit both of his short field-goal attempts. The Raiders needed a game-changing play and didn't get it.
COACHING: C -- The Raiders seemed motivated enough coming out, but they were simply done in by their own mistakes. Coach Hue Jackson, a wheeler-dealer against the Jets, turned conservative at times, going for a field goal when he needed a touchdown, punting with a deficit when it wasn't wise to give the ball back to the Patriots.
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