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Raiders-Patriots: Defense timely again, but thank goodness for bad opponents

The Raiders are shaky again, but Patriots are a lot worse

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders
Maxx Crosby
Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders have won two straight games to improve to 3-3 on the season as they beat the terrible New England Patriots 21-17 at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday. Here is a look at some of the keys of the game:

Defense saves day again:

For the second time in six games, the game ended with the Las Vegas defense making a play. This time, it was star pass-rusher Maxx Crosby sacking New England quarterback Mac Jones in the end zone for a safety in the final minute. Monday, cornerback Amik Robertson sealed the game in the final minute against the Green Bay Packers with an interception in the end zone in the final minute. Impressive

Defense got help:

Let’s face it, the Raiders’ defense received a lot of favors Sunday. The Patriots made one mistake after another, including having a penalty wipe out a long touchdown. They dropped a big pass play on the final drive that could have setup a potential game-winning field goal. They made one dumb penalty after another. Yet, the Raiders’ defense also gave up some chunk plays. This unit has been making more plays, but is it prepared to face a quality offense?

Got to keep beating the league’s worst:

The Raiders beat an underwhelming Packers’ team last week and then dropped the 1-5 Patriots on Sunday. The parade of poor opponents continues next week at the 1-5 Chicago Bears, who might be without quarterback Justin Fields, who left Sunday’s loss to Minnesota with a reported thumb injury. After facing the 5-1 Detroit Lions on Oct. 30, the Raiders play the New York Giants. They must take advantage of this stretch.

Jimmy G.’s injury:

Raiders’ starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t play in the second half because he reportedly had to go to a local hospital for a scan on his back. Veteran backup Brian Hoyer, who just turned 38, finished the game and was so-so. But he did make a couple of plays. If Garoppolo can’t play at Chicago, it will be interesting to see if coach Josh McDaniels sticks with Hoyer or goes with rookie Aidan O’Connell like he did in Week 4 against the Chargers when Garoppolo was out with a concussion. The working plan has been O’Connell would play if he had a week to prepare and Hoyer would play if Garoppolo was hurt in a game. So, perhaps O’Connell gets the call, but McDaniels wasn’t pleased with his inability to take care of the ball. He committed three turnovers against the Chargers. If Garoppolo can’t play, it will be a major storyline to follow.

Mayer shines:

Raiders’ second-round pick, Michael Mayer had his best game as he hauled in five catches for a team-high 75 yards. The Notre Dame product has skills after the catch and he’s getting more comfortable. The Raiders have to keep feeding him.

Adams quiet again:

After having four catches for 45 yards against his former team, Green Bay, Raiders’ star wide receiver Davante Adams said he needs to be more involved. It didn’t happen Sunday as he had just two catches for 29 yards. He has ben dealing with a bad shoulder and that may have something to do with it, but he wants the ball. Meanwhile, slot receiver Hunter Renfrow barely played and didn’t have any catches. The Raiders are reportedly shopping Renfrow, who has just six catches this season.

Red-zone woes:

The Raiders were 1-for-6 in the red zone. This is how their scoring output unfolded: One touchdown, four fields goals and a safety. The late safety got the Raiders past the 20-point mark for the first time this season. The offensive issues are alive despite the two-game winning streak. Again, it’s fine now, but it won’t fly when the schedule toughens.

Running game quiet again:

Raiders’ running back Josh Jacobs had a big 17-yard run, but he wasn’t great again as he had 77 yards on 25 carries. The Las Vegas ground game just hasn’t been there this season.

Robertson gets start:

As a reward for his game-sealing interception in the end zone against the Packers on Monday night, Robertson continued to start at outside cornerback. He played last week, because rookie Jakorian Bennett, who started the first four games, was out hurt. He is active this week and he did get some playing time Sunday. With Nate Hobbs missing his third game, Tyler Hall got the call for the second week at slot cornerback. Robertson played for Hobbs in the first game he was hurt.

Right tackle rotation:

Second-year player Thayer Munford started ahead of normal starter Jermaine Eluemunor. However, Eluemunor did spell him some, so it looks like this is a somewhat of a rotation for now. Munford played a lot for Eluemunor against Green Bay because he was banged up. But he was not on the injury report this week.