Oakland Raiders Beat Bills 26-24, Win Third Straight at Home
By Chase Ruttig
Dec 21, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) celebrates with center Stefen Wisniewski (61) and fullback Jamize Olawale (49) after a fourth-quarter touchdown against the Buffalo Bills at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Bills 26-24. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
While the Oakland Raiders have yet to win a game outside of Oakland and will be missing the playoffs, the final three home dates at the Coliseum have given the Black Hole plenty to cheer about as a young team has grown into their own to win three straight games to close out 2014 at home before ending the season in Denver next week.
Beating the Buffalo Bills to end their AFC Wild Card hopes, the Raiders continued to play spoiler on Sunday thanks to turnovers on defense, a balanced running attack of Latavius Murray along with Darren McFadden and plenty of Sebastian Janikowski field goals to upset the AFC East visitors who now haven’t won in Oakland since 1966.
The game started off slow for the Raiders, with Sammy Watkins burning DJ Hayden for a long touchdown to go up 7-0. That was in between several three and outs on offense from Derek Carr and the Raiders, but after a Charles Woodson interception things started to change slowly in the home finale. A deep bomb to Kenbrell Thompkins would put points on the board after James Jones caught a red zone pass from Carr to tie the game and from there the defense would be the story as Khalil Mack along with the veteran Justin Tuck would ruin Kyle Orton’s day on Sunday.
Dominating the line of scrimmage, the Raiders allowed just 13 yards rushing total with Mack and Tuck stealing the show for much of the game up front as the team stepped up in the absence of Sio Moore to contain a usually dangerous Bills rushing attack. Mack and Tuck also both registered sacks on Orton in the pass rushing department, putting pressure on the veteran quarterback to throw two costly interceptions.
On offense an injury to Marcel Darreus on the Bills defensive line allowed for Latavius Murray and Darren McFadden to have big days on the ground. Murray had 86 yards on 23 carries while McFadden posted 6.0 YPC on six carries for 54 yards, setting up the game winning touchdown on his longest run of the day that was stopped just short of the goal line when he was inches away from the pylon on the sideline.
Derek Carr would take advantage of a balanced run game, throwing deep passes to Kenbrell Thompkins and Andre Holmes that showed off his arm strength while finding James Jones as well as Jamize Olawale for crucial red zone touchdown passes in his third straight home victory. Carr finished for a decent 214 yard day through the air against a Bills pass rush that forced Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers into sub-200 yard days in the past two weeks in a performance that showed that Carr is on his way to becoming a franchise quarterback as his rookie season nears completion.
Sebastian Janikowski had his best game of the season going 4/5 on field goal attempts, but missed a 46 yarder that left the door open for a late Bills comeback that fell short when Charles Woodson recovered an onside kick attempt to ice the win that ended Buffalo’s playoff dreams.
Lastly the Raiders secondary had an outstanding day as TJ Carrie, Brandian Ross, Charles Woodson and DJ Hayden all stepped up to cause plenty of turnover opportunities including two that were called back that could have been big momentum boosters to make the win even more convincing than it was. In the end Woodson and Ross finished with the lone interceptions while a Carrie INT and a fumble recovery on a forced fumble forced by Hayden were called back in a game where the secondary was just as dominant as the pass rush up front.
Next for Oakland will be a 2014 finale in Denver against the Broncos where they will look to put a complete performance in against a team they competed with in the first half of an eventual blowout loss at the Coliseum earlier this season. In that game Peyton Manning was frustrated into throwing two interceptions early and the Raiders capitalized to have a lead before a long screen pass touchdown from CJ Anderson began a snowball effect into a blowout. Looking to end the year on a high note and continue playing spoiler, the Raiders will head into Mile High Stadium hoping to put forth a full four quarters to show that they are a team on the rise heading into 2015 after their sluggish start to this season.