FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots rushed for 250 yards in their 36-20 victory Sunday over the Las Vegas Raiders, an impressive performance that players said was dedicated to running back James White.
White, a third-year captain in his seventh season with the Patriots, remains away from the club after his father, Tyrone, died in a car crash Sept. 20. White’s mother, Lisa, was injured in the crash.
“We just try to go out there and play for him,” said running back Rex Burkhead, who scored three touchdowns for the first time in his eight-year NFL career.
Burkhead had to compose himself as he spoke about White.
“A lot of us, we think about him every single day and his situation. He’s just an unbelievable person, player and leader of this team. So him being away — and of course, the situation him and his family are going through — it’s sad,” Burkhead said. “He’s a brother to me. I really feel his pain in this whole situation. It’s tough.”
Before the game, the Patriots held a moment of silence before the singing of the national anthem.
“We certainly played for James — and not just James but his entire family,” said special-teams captain Matthew Slater, the longest tenured member of the team. “This has been a difficult week for all of us. Obviously, James has been through so much, and most of us can’t even begin to imagine what that must have been like for him and what it continues to be like. We want him to know that we love him and that he has our support.”
Quarterback Cam Newton said players feel for White.
“We just want to reward him and put him in good spirit,” he said. “We’re excited like heck to hopefully get him back here soon. We’ve been praying for him, and we need ‘Sweet Feet’ back.”
Coach Bill Belichick dedicated part of the opening remarks of his postgame news conference to White, saying that everyone is thinking about him.
Running back Sony Michel, who finished with 117 yards on nine carries, said he texted White throughout the week.
“The rest of the running backs did the same thing, and we all kind of came together and played hard. That’s what James White does,” he said.
Meanwhile, veteran receiver Julian Edelman said players wanted to make White proud.
“It did give us motivation to go out there and play for him because you know for a fact the kind of guy James White is. If something like that happened to one of us, he would do the same thing,” Edelman said. “It’s been a real tough situation, and my heart, prayers, love and everything goes toward him and his family.”