By Kate Joseph
The New England Patriots won their home opener Sunday night against the Oakland Raiders, 16-9.
This was the Patriots’ 12 victory of their last 13 home openers and the Raiders’ third straight loss this season.
Oakland took the lead in the first quarter with a 49-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski.
During the first part of the game, defensive tackle Sealver Siliga did not return to the field after a foot injury. Second-year player Chris Jones filled in for Sealver for the remainder of the game.
However, New England quickly recovered in the second with a touchdown by Rob Gronkowski after a pass from quarterback Tom Brady. Stephen Gostkowski earned the Patriots an extra three points with a field goal as well, bringing the score to 10-3 at half time.
The Raiders fought back in the third quarter with two more field goals, 37 yards and 47 yards respectively, from Janikowski, gaining the team six points.
To close out the game in the final quarter, the Patriots annihilated the close score with two additional field goals, 20 and 36 yards, by Gostkowski.
Moments before the second field goal, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork intercepted to give the Patriots the ball in the last 51 seconds. New England neared another touchdown, but a low throw by Dan Connolly and a quickly made incomplete pass from Brady left the clock at only three seconds.
“It was a team play,” said Wilfork. “I just happened to catch it.”
Though this is the second win for the Patriots this season (they lost their first game of the season to the Miami Dolphins), the team is still working on building their skills on the field.
“I think we’ve always gotten better as the season has gone on and as players gained more experience in what we’re doing,” said Brady. “We’ve got some new players. We’ve got different things that are happening. We’re all trying to get used to one another and used to the things we’re doing and trying to understand the things you’re good at. And then ultimately as the season goes, you work on the things that haven’t been going well and you try to stay real ahead of the things that you are doing really well at and then at the end of the year, you’re in a position to hopefully make the playoffs and do those types of things.”
Gronkowski echoed the quarterback’s statement.
“We did just enough to get the victory,” he said. “Sometimes it’s frustrating, but what we did today is not always going to get the job done.”
The Patriots return Sunday, Sept. 29, at 8:30 p.m. to face the Kansas City Chiefs in Nebraska.