By Nick Avila
Don’t ever say the Oakland Raiders are out of it. At least not this season. Right now, it doesn’t matter who they’re playing or what the deficit is. The Raiders just win, baby.
Oakland won its sixth straight game Sunday, 38-24 over the Buffalo Bills.
After falling behind 24-9 with nine minutes left in the third quarter, the Raiders then went on a 29-0 run. From that point on the Raiders offense outgained the Bills 230 to 70. The Bills had six offensive drives from that point on and the Raiders defense forced three straight three-and-outs and two turnovers from the Bills (Buffalo’s last drive ended as time expired in the fourth quarter).
One of the issues heading into the game for the Raiders was how Derek Carr’s injured right hand was holding up, but after a handful of drops in the first half Raiders’ wide receivers were probably being asked that same question.
Seth Roberts and Michael Crabtree each dropped catchable balls in the end zone on an arduous red zone chance before Sebastian Janikowski kicked his second field goal of the game.
Due to the drops and a couple mistimed penalties, the Raiders’ offense stalled for much of the first half. However, they found themselves only trailing 10-9 after Janikowski capped off the second quarter with his third 40-plus yard field goal of the game.
The Raiders’ defense, secondary especially, has been the biggest concern for most fans this season and they didn’t offer much optimism on the Bills’ first two drives of the game as Buffalo drove down the field with ease, settling for a field goal on their first possession and punching in a one-yard touchdown on their second.
Bills’ quarterback Tyrod Taylor started the game 9 of 10 passing and LeSean McCoy and Mike Gillislee each ran for big chunks of yards. Gillislee scored the aforementioned rushing touchdown for the Bills.
The Bills opened the second half with a kick return to their own 34-yard line, then a McCoy 54-yard run would set up the Bills at the Raiders’ 12. Taylor optioned on the next play and ran to the right side untouched into the end zone to put the Bills up 17-9.
After going three-and-out, the Raiders punted and Buffalo once again drove down the field for another score. Now 24-9, the Raiders had to respond and respond they did. Carr led Oakland on a 75-yard drive capped off by a three-yard touchdown to Crabtree. Crabtree finished the game with seven catches for 74 yards.
After Jalen Richard returned the punt to the Bills’ 38, Carr hit Crabtree on first down for four. Richard followed with a 21-yard run to the Bills’ 13. A couple plays later, Latavius Murray would get into the end zone to bring the Raiders within one.
On the Bills’ next drive, the Raiders shut them down for -5 yards as they forced another punt and once again Carr and the Raiders moved the ball down the field effortlessly. A double-move from Amari Cooper freed him enough for Carr to drop in a dime for a 37-yard touchdown. The Raiders led 30-24 at that point.
As the momentum had all but left the Bills, Khalil Mack made his presence felt on the first play of the drive as he got his hand on Taylor’s pass and Nate Allen intercepted it. Once again Murray would finish the four play, 16-yard drive with a rushing touchdown. Carr would also link up with Seth Roberts for the two-point conversion to make it 38-24. Carr finished the game 19 for 35 for 260 yards.
As the Bills attempted to make it a one score game, Mack, for the second game in a row, got a strip sack that all but sealed the Raiders’ win. It was the seventh straight game that Mack recorded a sack and was his 10th sack of the year.
The Raiders once again had a second half comeback victory and won their sixth straight game to improve their AFC West-leading record to 10-2. According to Josh Dubow of the Associated Press, Oakland hadn’t overcome a 15-plus point deficit since 2000.
The Raiders now have a short week as they prepare for a Thursday night AFC West showdown at Arrowhead Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs. The winner of that game will sit in first place of the division.