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Instant Takeaways From Patriots' 36-20 Win Over Raiders

New England's run game dominated Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.

The New England Patriots (2-1) pounded the Las Vegas Raiders (2-1) at Gillette Stadium Sunday afternoon by a score of 36-13. 

In a game in which there was plenty of sloppy play by New England on both sides of the football, the run game and a decent defensive performance against an injury-plagued Raiders defense led them to a blowout win in Week 3.  

Let's review some of the instant takeaways from New England's second win of the season. 

Joe Thuney Starts at Center, Michael Onwenu at Left Guard

With starting center David Andrews placed on injured reserve Saturday, it remained to be seen how New England would replace him in the lineup in Week 3. That question was answered seconds into the game, with left guard Joe Thuney sliding to the center spot, and rookie Michael Onwenu getting the start at left guard. 

Overall, the new starting offensive line did an excellent job considering the circumstances. They helped the run game get going and have one of their best performances thus far this season. 

Chase Winovich Continues To Stand Out

Much like Trey Flowers did a couple year ago while in a Patriots uniform, Chase Winovich continues to stand out among New England's average front seven. 

Winovich's most notable play in Week 3 was a strip sack in the first half which lead to New England's second field goal of the day. 

Luckily, unlike Flowers, the Patriots have a couple years before Winovich is up for a payday. But based on how New England's defense has looked over the past two weeks, they are once again wasting a talented edge defender by not performing well around him. 

Yes, I know the Patriots defense scored a touchdown against the Raiders. But there couldn't have been a better circumstance for them to come out with a touchdown there. 

New England Took Committee Approach Covering Darren Waller

The biggest question surrounding New England's defensive game plan against Las Vegas was how they would go about covering tight end Darren Waller, who is their No. 1 option in the passing game and one of the best tight ends in the NFL.

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The answer to that question is something that fantasy owners hate to hear regarding an offensive backfield: committee approach.

While Joejuan Williams took the lead in covering Waller Sunday afternoon, a combination of several defensive backs held Waller to just two catches for eight yards on the day. 

Rex Burkhead Was Patriots' Offensive MVP

On a day in which Cam Newton struggled throwing the football, veteran running back Rex Burkhead was effective in both facets of the offense. 

Burkhead had 49 rushing yards and 49 receiving yards, to go along with two rushing scores and another through the air. Overall, New England running backs found plenty of running room (251 total rushing yards), but Burkhead's production put points on the board for an offense that struggled through the air in Week 3. 

Sony Michel Silences the Haters

On a day that felt like a do-or-die situation for former first-round pick Sony Michel, the third-year running back shined. He had 117 yards on nine carries, which is his first 100-yard game during the regular season since Week 16 of 2018. 

With Damien Harris eligible to return in Week 4 and J.J. Taylor also having a decent showing against the Raiders (11 carries for 43 yards), New England's backfield distribution continues to be a mystery on a week-to-week basis. 

Cam Newton Had Lackluster Day 

You can't talk about the Patriots offense without talking about Cam Newton. The former MVP completed 17-of-28 passes for 162 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also had 27 rushing yards. 

Newton's sub-par performance wasn't entirely his fault, but he is in-part to blame. While the receivers struggled getting opened downfield against Las Vegas' young secondary, there were plenty of opportunities for Newton to hit his targets downfield but wasn't accurate enough.

Hopefully, Newton can get back on track in Week 4, when the Patriots will play against the Chiefs and wideout Gunner Olszewski will be eligible to return from injured reserve. 

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