Last season, the Oakland Raiders were able to pull off a comeback in the second half against the Buffalo Bills to earn a 14 point victory. This year was the opposite of that, with the Raiders laying a huge egg after halftime.
The Bills came away with a 34-14 victory yesterday, scoring 20 of those points in the second half. The Raiders were the harbingers of their own destruction, turning the ball over four separate times, three of which led to Bills scores.
The first half was a fairly tight contest, believe it or not. The Raiders methodically drove down the field on their first series, which ended in a short touchdown burst from 1 yard out by fullback Jamize Olawale. The two teams engaged in a defensive battle for the next 15 minutes of game action.
Midway through the second quarter, Tyrod Taylor found former Raider Andre Holmes in the end zone on a toe-dragging catch to tie things up. Soon after the two-minute warning, the Raiders were attempting to score before halftime when disaster struck.
DeAndre Washington got stripped by Leonard Johnson after a short pass, which was nabbed out of the air and returned for a 40-yard touchdown by rookie linebacker Matt Milano. All of a sudden, the Bills had the lead heading into the break.
The Raiders would not recover, turning the ball over three more times after that. Milano forced a fumble on a Jalen Richard punt return early in the third quarter, which led to a Stephen Hauschka field goal. Derek Carr had a pass to Michael Crabtree tipped by Preston Brown and intercepted by Micah Hyde on the next drive. Another Hauschka kick followed.
After a three-and-out, the Bills took the rest of the third period away on a long drive, which ended on the first play of the fourth with a Taylor QB sneak from inside the 1-yard line. While the Raiders were able to get a TD on a short pass from Carr to Washington on the next series, the Bills ate more clock up on the next drive, forced a turnover-on-downs and immediately iced the game with a 48-yard scamper from LeSean McCoy. Carr would throw a desperation INT to Trae Elston to close things out.
While Carr’s numbers outside of the two picks look great on paper (31 for 49, 313 yards and a TD), a lot of the yardage came in garbage time, and the majority of his passes were completed within ten yards. The Bills secondary stepped up big time in the wake of injuries; rookie Tre’Davious White continued his great play, Shareece Wright broke up four passes, and the safety duo of Elston and Micah Hyde performed well in run support, in addition to their individual INTs.
Crabtree led the Raiders in receiving, with 5 catches for 83 yards. 72 of those came in the first quarter, though. Amari Cooper was limited by White, though he did manage 5 catches for 48 yards. Jared Cook had 4 catches for 57 yards.
The Raiders eschewed the ground game after they went down for good, so their numbers were pretty bad. Washington had 6 carries for 26 yards, while Richard had 21 yards on 5 touches. It’s hard to say if Marshawn Lynch‘s absence made a difference or not. The two contributed heavily in the air attack, however, as Carr had to check down to them frequently. Washington led the team in catches with 8, gaining 62 yards and a TD. Richard had 5 catches for 35 yards.
Taylor played efficiently but didn’t really go nuts through the air. He was 20 for 27 and 165 yards and the QB sneak TD. His previously mentioned passing TD going to Holmes. The latter led the team in receiving with 3 catches for 51 yards.
McCoy was the focal point of the Bills offense, carrying the ball 27 times for 151 yards and the final score. The Raiders run defense was able to limit him somewhat in the first half, with Cory James and Reggie Nelson leading the charge. Shady was much more effective in the second half. He also led the Bills in catches with 6, getting 22 additional yards.
Now 3-5 on the year, the Raiders face a daunting schedule the rest of the way. Their playoff aspirations are nearly non-existent as a result. They’ll play the Miami Dolphins in primetime next Sunday. The Bills improved to 5-2 and could play a factor in the AFC playoff race.