By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots just keep getting better as the season continues.
The Patriots picked up their 12th straight road win with a demolishing of the Raiders at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Sunday’s 33-8 victory has them sitting at 8-2 on the season, with their next three games against AFC East opponents (Miami, at Buffalo, at Miami) who can’t seem to get out of their own way as we enter the stretch run of the season.
The Patriots did just about everything right when it comes to this win, from Belichick and company’s plan to have the team stay in the high altitude at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs in the week leading up, to their dominating performance on the field.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski summed it up best: “It was a fiesta all over the field.”
It’s hard to find many downs in what was the Patriots’ most dominating win of the season, so for the second straight week we’ll give you a few extra ups and a lot less downs.
Tom Brady Puts On A Clinic
The fans in Mexico City were treated to a show from Tom Brady, who was graced with “Brady! Brady!” chants early and often.
Brady was surgical, cutting up a lackluster Oakland secondary for 339 yards and a trio of touchdowns. He’s the first quarterback in NFL history to have a 300-yard passing game in three different countries, and he has three touchdowns in all three of his games outside of the country.
Brady started 12-for-12 and finished his day 30-for-37. His 64-yard touchdown to Brandin Cooks to start the second half was his longest pass play of the season.
We’ll now make our obligatory mention that this man is 40 years old. He has 22 touchdowns and just two interceptions on the year.
Cooks Breaks Out
Brady went to Cooks nine times, with the receiver hauling in six catches for 149 yards and that bomb of a touchdown. Cooks also had a 52-yard reception and averaged 24.8 yards per catch on the afternoon.
And if you think he’s having a quiet season his first year in New England, Cooks now ranks fourth in the NFL with 786 receiving yards. Yes, stats are for losers, but that’s pretty darn good.
Flower Forces A Huge Fumble
The Raiders were down to the New England 3-yard line and it looked like they were going to score ahead of the half. A touchdown would have made it a 14-7 game.
Instead, Marquis Flowers punched the ball out of Seth Roberts’ hand and Patrick Chung pounced on the loose ball to give his offense one more possession. It was a smart play by Flowers, a heads up play by Chung, and a boneheaded play by Roberts that likely took points off of the board for Oakland.
Defense Continues To Shine
The Patriots defense is really rounding into shape despite the loss of Dont’a Hightower. During their current six-game win streak, the New England D has allowed a minuscule 12.5 points per contest.
They forced two more turnovers this weekend, with Duron Harmon picking off a deflected pass the late in the first quarter before Flowers forced his fumble.
Gostkowski’s Record Boot
The Patriots made something out of that Flowers-caused fumble, though it was all because of a giant boot by Stephen Gostkowski. The kicker connected on a 62-yarder for the longest field goal in Patriots history. The thin air probably played into it, but the kick would have been good from 72 yards:
New England’s previous record was a 58-yard field goal by Gostkowski back in Week 4 against Carolina. Gostkowski finished Sunday’s game a perfect four-for-four, connecting on kicks of 62 yards, 51 yards, 40 yards and 29 yards. It’s his third game with two field goals of 50 or more yards.
His long field goal also marked the seventh straight game that the Patriots have scored in the final minute of the first half. Incredible.
Dion Lewis Shines Again
The crafty Lewis has solidified his role as New England’s go-to running back with 60 yards on 10 carries. He got the scoring started with his 15-yard touchdown, turning a short pass from Brady into six points, finishing with four receptions for 28 yards.
O-Line Keeps Brady Clean Again
Ted Karras filled in for the injured David Andrews at center, and the second-year player barely warranted mention. That’s how you know an offensive lineman had a good game.
The Raiders pass rush is nothing impressive, but Brady was sacked just once and hit only four times in Sunday’s win.
Quiet Day For Burkhead
After a breakout game in Denver, Rex Burkhead got off to a bit of a tough start in this one. He fumbled a carry on New England’s first drive that was luckily recovered by tight end Dwayne Allen. He only had 16 yards on his five carries, but also chipped in with 21 yards on four receptions.