Patriots

Game notes: Patriots tie Browns for second-longest streak of .500-or-better seasons

Game notes: Patriots tie Browns for second-longest streak of .500-or-better seasons

Notes from the Patriots' 33-8 victory over the Raiders in Mexico City . . . 

-- New England is now 8-2 and is guaranteed to have a .500 or better record for the 17th consecutive season, tying the 1957-73 Browns for the second-longest streak in NFL history. The record is 21, held by the 1965-85 Cowboys. The Pats last had a losing season in 2000, when they were 5-11 in Bill Belichick's first season in New England.

PATRIOTS 33, RAIDERS 8

-- The Patriots have now won 13 straight road games, setting a franchise record. They remain in second place on the NFL all-time list, behind the 18 straight road games won by the 1988-90 49ers.

-- Tom Brady completed 30 of 37 passes (81.1 percent) for 339 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 131.9 passer rating. Brady has 82 career games with at least 300 passing yards and is the only player in NFL history to record a 300-yard passing game in three different countries (United States, United Kingdom and Mexico). Brady is also the first player to have a game with at least three passing touchdowns in three different countries.

-- The Pats are now 3-0 in international games, and have outscored their opponents by a combined 113-22 score in those games. 

-- Stephen Gostkowski scored 15 points on four field goals and three PATs and moved into the top 20 on the all-time NFL scoring list.

-- Gostkowski set a franchise record for longest field goal, 62 yards, in the light air of Mexico City.

Patriots-Steelers inactives: Haden out for Pittsburgh

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Patriots-Steelers inactives: Haden out for Pittsburgh

The Patriots have one of their top defenders back in action in Pittsburgh. 

Trey Flowers, who injured his ribs in Week 12 against the Dolphins, will be in uniform against the Steelers. The Patriots have been considerably thinned on the edge in recent weeks so having Flowers back -- both to rush the passer and set the edge against the run -- should be key for Bill Belichick's defense. 

Also in action for the Patriots are Stephon Gilmore (ankle), David Harris (ankle), Eric Lee (ankle), Matthew Slater (hamstring), LaAdrian Waddle (ankle) and Deatrich Wise (foot). All came into the game listed as questionable but will be available. 

There are few surprises on the Patriots inactive list as Chris Hogan's status was reported earlier in the day by ESPN. We broke down how things could look without Hogan could look like right here

On the Steelers' end of things, their defense will be forced to go another week without Joe Haden, who is still recovering from a broken leg suffered earlier this season. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin seemed optimistic earlier this week that Haden could return, but instead he'll rely on corners Artie Burns, Cam Sutton and Coty Sensabaugh on the outside. 

With both Haden and linebacker Ryan Shazier unavailable, the Steelers are without two of their best matchup players, meaning their desire to play more man-to-man defense -- a desire they professed all the way back in the spring -- may not be in the offing. 

Meanwhile, Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (hamstring) will be in uniform, complicating the matchups for the Patriots secondary. Gilmore could spend time on Smith-Schuster or Martavis Bryant if he's not deployed on Antonio Brown. That would likely leave Eric Rowe -- whose size makes him a logical match for Smith-Schuster or Bryant -- on whoever's left.

The Patriots-Steelers inactive lists:

PATRIOTS
DL Alan Branch
OL Cole Croston
RB Mike Gillislee
DL Geneo Grissom
WR Chris Hogan
S Brandon King
LB Kyle Van Noy

STEELERS
QB Joshua Dobbs
DT Daniel McCullers
TE Vance McDonald
OT Matt Feiler
CB Joe Haden
\WR Justin Hunter
S J.J. Wilcox

With Hogan down, what's next for Patriots at receiver?

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With Hogan down, what's next for Patriots at receiver?

The Patriots have been dealt yet another blow on the injury front, it appears. 

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Chris Hogan is not expected to play against the Steelers on Sunday afternoon. Hogan made the trip to Pittsburgh, but he's still dealing with a shoulder injury that kept him out for four games following the bye week. 

Hogan returned to action on Monday night against the Dolphins and was targeted five times, catching one for one yard. He played 55 snaps, taking over the No. 2 receiver role and keeping Phillip Dorsett (zero snaps versus Miami) on the sidelines. 

For the Patriots, not having Hogan against the Steelers stings because he had nine catches for 180 yards and two scores in the AFC title game in January. 

What do the Patriots do if Hogan can't go? The answers shouldn't be all that hard to find. They just spent a month without him. But the acquisition of Kenny Britt, which went down earlier in the week, complicates things a tad. 

From Weeks 10 through 13, Dorsett played an average of 42 snaps -- second only to Brandin Cooks at his position. But for all the work Dorsett saw, Brady threw only three passes his way in four weeks. 

Asking Britt to take on a heavy workload would be asking a lot. The Patriots practiced with Britt three times this week, but one was a walkthrough. The team did as much as it could to get Britt caught up on the week's game plan, but how he works with Brady and the rest of the offense in a game situation remains to be seen. 

The Britt situation, in some situations, mirrors what went on with Michael Floyd and the Patriots last season. Floyd was claimed off of waivers on Dec. 15 last year. He played nine days later against the Jets and caught one of two targets for six yards. 

It's not out of the realm of possibility that Britt is able to play and see extensive action against the Steelers five days after being signed, but he would've blown the Floyd timeline out of the water. 

Though he doesn't have the familiarity with the offense that Dorsett does, Britt's size and physicality could make him an immediate option against a secondary that has openly admitted this week it plans to get its hands on Patriots pass-catchers. He's a more viable option in that kind of game than someone like Dorsett, who relies on his speed more so than his ability to win battles at the line of scrimmage. 

The Patriots should feast on Steelers linebackers in coverage in this game with running backs Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead and James White. Rob Gronkowski will also be a focal point as he returns off of his one-week suspension.

With Hogan out, now maybe Britt can get into the mix as well.  

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