The Las Vegas Raiders defense as a whole played really well in Week 6 against the New England Patriots by surrendering 17 points and picking up a safety to seal the win. According to Pro Football Focus, one of the Raiders’ best defenders last Sunday was veteran cornerback Marcus Peters.
Peters was one of five players to participate in every defensive snap and earned the fourth-highest PFF defensive grade at 78.3 and that figure ranked 10th among all corners for the week. That is the highest mark he’s received since joining the Silver and Black which is primarily due to him surrendering just two catches on four targets for 21 yards, as those numbers are the second-fewest he’s allowed this season.
So, let’s flip on the tape and see what was working for the 30-year-old.
It’s second and 15 in our first clip and the Patriots try to throw a swing pass to Rhamondre Stevenson. It’s a good play call as the Raiders send the nickel on a blitz which allows the receiver at the bottom of the screen to break off his route and block the linebacker, creating a one-on-one open-field tackle situation with a running back against a cornerback.
Now, Stevenson ends up dropping the pass but Peters does a good job of recognizing the play design and crashing downhill. He’s in a good position to bring Stevenson down, had the ball been caught, and ends up making contact to ensure the drop happens.
This was far from Peters’ best play of the game, but it's a quality rep where he shows off some of those veteran instincts. Later in the game, he had a similar rep where Stevenson caught the ball but Peters was able to come up and limit the gain to four yards.
This next play is a great example of how the Raiders have been playing sound defense lately.
They’re playing Cover 3 but Peters man turns (faces the receiver instead of the quarterback) as he’s essentially in man coverage against DeVante Parker. Also, Peters is playing off the line of scrimmage and backpedals off the snap.
The latter is something he’s been doing a lot this year because he doesn't quite have the speed he used to, but the old man does a good job of recognizing the curl route by Parker and breaking on it to take that option away from Mac Jones.
Meanwhile, Maxx Crosby gets a quick win as a pass-rusher and forces Jones to scramble. Jones is looking to hit Parker initially on the scramble drill but Peters forces him to look for something else, resulting in a terrible overthrow that Tre’von Moehrig intercepts.
New England is down nine with less than 10 minutes to play and they just crossed midfield, so there are a lot of signs that a deep shot is coming. They dial up a play-action pass with a two-man route, looking for that momentum-changing play.
However, Las Vegas is in Cover 3 and Peters plays with plenty of cushion to avoid getting beat deep. When the ball is in the air, he does a good job of flipping his hips and forcing the receiver toward the sideline, making it more difficult for the wideout to drag his feet in bounds on the catch attempt.
Granted, the throw is wide and off-target but Peters makes it so the receiver has no room to make a highlight reel catch.
The Raiders run Cover 6 here and Peters is on the Cover 2 side of the play-call. He initially works wide to help give the safety more time to pick up the deep route and then is quick to trigger and rally to the short drag route off of the mesh concept.
The veteran breaks down and is in a great position to make the open-field tackle shortly after the catch. I also like that as he sees Divine Deablo coming over to help on the tackle attempt, he transitions to trying to rip the ball out and create a turnover. It doesn’t work but we’ll take a six-yard gain on second and 15.
There’s not too much to break down on this clip but it is another great play from Peters.
Las Vegas is in man coverage, playing Cover 1 with a blitz, and New England dials up a goal-line fade to Kendrick Bourne. Peters has great footwork in press coverage at the line of scrimmage and uses his hands well to stay in phase. Finally, he puts those old knees to good use and gets up just enough to contest the catch and force an incompletion.