This week three contest could be described as a tale of two games within a game.
Oakland, on the road for the second straight week, came out and played inspired football on both sides of the ball, dominating the game early, only to see it all fall apart late and lose a game that the Bills had no business winning.
Down by nine points late the Bills were able to battle back and overcome an interception, two fumbles, three sacks, a missed 46-yard field goal, and four penalties for 25 yards.
The Bills were able to convert a turnover, a JaMarcus Russell fumble, deep in Raiders territory into a short Marshawn Lynch TD run.
The Raiders started off fast aided by a Johnnie Lee Higgins 68 yard kickoff return that resulted in the team taking a 3-0 lead. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski converted his second field goal later in the first quarter that put the Raiders up 6–0.
The good thing was that Oakland scored twice on two of their first four possessions from drives starting on the Buffalo side of the field. The bad thing was that both scores were field goals and not touchdowns.
The Raiders went from playing inspired in the first half to basically folding in the second half. The attacking defense that had that put a tremendous amount of pressure on Trent Edwards early changed to more zone coverages and prevent defenses.
The Raiders had several chances to win this game but the defense failed to stop or slow down the Bills in the second half. This unfortunately was a game that the Raiders took a loss as a team; it shouldn’t be blamed solely on the defense.
The offense not mounting a drive and running out the clock with slightly more than four minutes remaining didn’t help. Going into the game we knew that Justin Fargas wasn’t going to be in the lineup and that Darren McFadden took a pain killing injection to be able to play.
It was impressive to see Darren McFadden show the mental toughness to play with the toe injury, but his effectiveness was limited due to the injury.
It appeared that his feet seemed to slip out from under him on at least six occasions with some daylight in front of him that he would’ve capitalized on if healthy.
I applaud the effort shown by both teams, but the Raiders failed to make enough plays to pull out the victory.
It was a tough loss for the Raiders, but in a 16 game season there will be ups and downs and this was one that the team took on the chin and will have to learn from their mistakes and come out with a better effort and turn it up a notch being pushed by the home crowd next Sunday.
This game raises several questions that must be answered.
1) Defensively, what was up with the ‘off’ coverage on every receiver as opposed to the customary tight man-to-man on the right side? It appeared that this was the side that the Bills were attacking all game and completing passes all game. Rob Ryan and staff need to address this with CB DeAngelo Hall.
2) Why get away from the attacking pressure defense that was very effective early? It appeared that DT Gerard Warren went out with a neck injury, on an already thin defensive line; could that have been the reason or just part of the problem?
3) Pass Rushing DE Kalimba Edwards has played well and was getting a push, but is it just me who thinks that it is time to incorporate a counter move to the up field rush?
4) How can TE Zach Miller, JaMarcus Russell’s go to receiver, go through a game with no receptions? He was double-teamed a lot because he is one of the quarterback’s first three reads, but this can’t be allowed again.
5) What was up with no timeouts being called on the final drive? It is hard to say how effective in would’ve been, but I expected to at least see coach Kiffin ice the kicker with a timeout.
Photo Credit David Sherman/Getty