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Raiders-Patriots recap: 5 key takeaways from loss at New England

Defense was a problem, and let’s look at that Darren Waller situation

NFL: Oakland Raiders at New England Patriots
Derek Carr
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s look at some key factors in the Raiders’ 36-20 defeat at the New England Patriots on Sunday:

Defense is a problem:
Victories are a good distraction. That was the case in the first two weeks of this season. The Raiders’ defense wasn’t very good — but the Raiders won — anyway. Well, on a tough day for Las Vegas’ offense, the defense showed it can kill this team.

After a promising start, the Raiders’ defense, which is allowing an average of 30 points a game, wilted in New England ... especially against the run. The Patriots had 217 rushing yards through three quarters and finished with 250 yards on the ground. Not enough players are making plays. This has to be addressed ASAP.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at New England Patriots
Darren Waller
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The Waller situation:
A lot was made about the Raiders not targeting star tight end Darren Waller until the third quarter and he didn’t make his first catch until four minutes remained in the game. The Patriots made him a focal point and they often had him double covered. Sill, I wouldn’t worry that the NFL has figured Waller out. He was dealing with a knee injury and wasn’t fully healthy. I believe that is the biggest reason he was a non-factor Sunday.

Slop doesn’t travel well:
The Raiders have a formula to win games: Be efficient, run the ball, don’t make turnovers or untimely penalties. The Raiders strayed from that formula Sunday. They lost three fumbles, they had costly penalties and they were just 1 of 4 in the red zone. That is not going to work against Bill Belichick on the road. Jon Gruden will not have a hard time figuring out what went wrong in this game.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at New England Patriots
Hunter Renfrow
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t forget about Renfrow:
Waller was contained and the Raiders’ starting receivers were banged up. But Hunter Renfrow made some plays. The second-year receiver had six catches for 84 yards and a score. It’s good to have Hunter Renfrow on your side.

Critical next two weeks:
The Raiders are 2-1 and that’s pretty good with a tough schedule. The key is for the Raiders to win one of their next two games before the bye. It would be a bummer if they lose three straight.

They need to win one of the next two games, but it won’t be easy. Next up is Buffalo at home and then it’s a road test in Kansas City. Yes, the defense better get fixed soon.