The New England Patriots improved to 2-1 with a double-digit Week 3 win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday afternoon, and they did it without a great performance from quarterback Cam Newton.
Newton didn't play horribly, but his performance wasn't at the level we saw from him over the first two weeks.
The 31-year-old veteran completed 17 of 28 pass attempts for 162 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also ran for just 27 yards on nine carries in the 36-20 victory at Gillette Stadium.
Newton didn't shy away from self-criticism when talking about his Week 3 performance during a Monday morning interview on WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show."
“(Sunday) was kind of frustrating in itself,” Newton admitted. “I do understand, knowing and playing in this league long enough, that there will be games like that. And when there are games like that, you’ve just got to find ways to win.
“So that’s the optimistic answer. Me personally, with lackluster ball security, just the slow start offensively, this is subpar performance. I know I can play better. I know I can be better, and I know I will be better."
Newton also gave himself a grade of a "75", or as he put it, a "midway C", which is pretty accurate.
Luckily for the Patriots, they didn't need Newton to be awesome to win that matchup with the Raiders. New England's rushing attack carved up the Las Vegas defense with a season-high 250 yards on the ground, along with two touchdowns.
The Patriots averaged 6.6 yards per carry as a team and received several strong individual performances, highlighted by running back Sony Michel's season-high 117 rushing yards on only nine carries.
Newton will have little margin for error in Week 4, though. The Patriots will face one of their toughest matchups of the regular season against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs on the road. The Chiefs, led by superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, have one of the most potent offenses in the league and likely will score close to 30 points or more.
If the Patriots are going to keep up with the Chiefs offense and win in a tough environment, Newton will need to be better than he was Sunday.