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Patriots torch Raiders, take control of AFC playoff picture

The Pats are again inching closer toward a top 2 seed in the conference
Patriots, torch, Raiders
Tom Brady walks onto the field at Azteca Stadium Sunday. Getty Images

Tom Brady’s 64-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks in the first minute of the third quarter put a stamp on a 33-8 Patriots victory over the Raiders in a game that was never in doubt.

The Pats’ win Sunday afternoon at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City pushed their 2017 record to 8-2 and they are now tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the top seed in the AFC.

The Patriots defense came up with an enormous turnover to close out the first half as Marquis Flowers punched the ball free from Seth Roberts. Patrick Chung recovered the fumble and the Pats took over from their own 7-yard line.

With just 26 seconds left in the half and backed up close to their own end zone, most teams would have elected to kneel on the ball to close out the half. But the Pats – brimming with confidence against the Raiders defense all day – quickly marched to the Oakland 45-yard line and Stephen Gostkowski boomed home a 62-yard field goal. The three points bumped the New England lead to 17-0 at the half.

The Pats defense shut out the Raiders through the first three quarters of the game.

Offensively, Brady was near perfect, hitting on 30-of-37 passes for 339 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He finished the game with a sparkling 131.9 passer rating.

Brady was scary accurate in the first half, completing 20-of-24 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Through two quarters, Brady had a passer rating of 129.3 while his counterpart, Derek Carr, had a rating of only 39.3.

Gostkowski was highly impressive throughout the contest as well, kicking four field goals. In addition to the 62-yarder, Gostkowski also hit a 51-yard kick.

Cooks had his best game as a member of the Patriots, hauling in six catches for 149 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. Dion Lewis led the Pats in rushing with 60 yards on 10 carries.

The Pats will now face AFC East opponents for the next three weeks before a gigantic showdown against the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Dec. 17. The Pats host the Dolphins next Sunday afternoon and will then play at Buffalo, and then at Miami.

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