NFL Wire News

Raiders-Bills: What we learned

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OAKLAND, Calif. — The Buffalo Bills had their playoff hopes on the line Sunday when they faced the Oakland Raiders at the O.co Coliseum.

The Raiders, who won two of their first 14 games, were playing for nothing but pride, but that fueled them to a 26-24 victory that eliminated the Bills from playoff contention.

“It shows what kind of team we are,” said Raiders rookie linebacker Khalil Mack, who had a sack, five tackles, three quarterback hits and a tackle for loss. “We have a lot of heart. We have a lot of pride in this locker room. That speaks for the veterans and the younger guys. We go out every day. We work hard, we practice hard, and we play for each other.”

Rookie quarterback Derek Carr threw two touchdown passes, running back Latavius Murray rushed for 86 yards, and the Raiders (3-12) earned a third consecutive home win in their home finale.

“I can’t said enough good things about this team,” said Raiders interim coach Tony Sparano, who is vying to keep the job next season. “They’re fighters. Every time someone counts them out, they bounce back.”

The Bills (8-7) were coming off a 21-13 victory over the Green Bay Packers, but they lost for the second time in three games.

“It just really breaks your heart, you know?” Bills quarterback Kyle Orton said. “You just sit there and put it all into it for a really long time, and you don’t do it for anybody but yourselves and for the guys next to you in the locker room.

“Still got one game to go. We’ll play as hard as we can and try to get a win. But, certainly, when you’ve gone this long and you’re right there with a chance and you put it all on the line and you don’t come through, it hurts.”

What the Raiders said:

“We’re trying to change a culture, and we are changing a culture here. We know if we keep fighting and working hard, eventually it’s going to get there.” — QB Derek Carr

What the Bills said:

“I think at the end of the day, they got after us up front and they kicked our butt up front. When you do that, it’s difficult to run, pass, do a lot of things. We weren’t able to do a lot of things because of that. I just felt a little handcuffed during the game, offensively, with what we were trying to get accomplished.” — Coach Doug Marrone.

What we learned about the Raiders

1. They have a rising star in running back Latavius Murray. In just his second career start, Murray rushed for 86 yards on 23 carries against the Bills, helping slow down Buffalo’s vaunted pass rush. Murray has rushed for 387 yards on 72 carries overall, and is averaging 5.4 yards per carry. He’s big — 6-foot-3, 225 pounds — strong, fast and can catch. The question is this: What took the Raiders so long to give him the ball? “Latavius, he makes our job a lot easier,” Raiders guard Austin Howard said. “He’s had a great year. The times that he’s been in there he’s been able to get a lot of good yards for us. And hard-earned yards. He makes a lot of plays. He’s going to be a great back in this league.”

2. Unlike some Raiders teams of the past, this team refuses to quit. They won their final three home games, beating Kansas City, San Francisco and Buffalo — three teams that had playoff hopes when they came to Oakland. “It says a lot,” Raiders free safety Charles Woodson said. “This team has never really gotten down to the point where we were ready to give up. It’s always been an upbeat attitude with the guys on this team, and it shows out there each week.”

–FS Charles Woodson had his 60th career interception Sunday against Buffalo, picking off a Kyle Orton pass in the first quarter. Woodson became the 11th player in NFL history with at least 60 career interceptions. He has 22 interceptions as a Raider, tying him with Warren Powers for 10th on the franchise list.

–QB Derek Carr became the 13th rookie in NFL history to pass for more than 3,000 yards. Carr passed for 217 yards Sunday against Buffalo, giving him 3,112 for the season. Carr completed 17 of 34 passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

–OLB Khalil Mack had his fourth sack of the season Sunday against Buffalo, dropping Bills QB Kyle Orton for a 10-yard loss early in the second half. Mack is tied with DE Justin Tuck for the team lead. Mack had three quarterback hits, one tackle for loss and five total tackles.

What we learned about the Bills:

1. Their offense needs a serious offseason upgrade, especially up front. The Bills rushed for 13 yards

on 13 carries against the Raiders. “We’re all grown men. We work very hard, we dedicate ourselves to this game,” Bills tight end Lee Smith said. “You get your ass whipped up front for four quarters, it’s embarrassing. We take it personal, and there’s no excuse for it.”

2. C.J. Spiller probably won’t be rust-free until next season. Spiller returned to action after missing seven games with a broken clavicle, and he had a rough day against the physical Raiders. Spiller carried four times for minus-4 yards. He also fumbled but landed on the ball and recovered, avoiding a turnover. “I think it was tough to evaluate anyone who was carrying the ball today,” Bills coach Doug Marrone said. “There were guys in the backfield, there were guys penetrating. We really didn’t have that much.”

–WR Sammy Watkins caught three passes for 75 yards Sunday against the Raiders and his first touchdown since Oct. 26 vs. the New York Jets. The rookie caught Kyle Orton’s 42-yard scoring pass, giving Buffalo a 7-0 in the first quarter of a 26-24 loss to Oakland. Watkins has 62 catches for 925 yards and six touchdowns for the season.

–RB C.J. Spiller returned to action Sunday against Oakland after missing seven games with a broken clavicle. Spiller, who had been on the injured reserve/designated for return list, carried four times for minus-four yards. He fumbled once but landed on the ball, avoiding a turnover.

–CB Stephon Gilmore sustained a concussion with 7:23 left in the third quarter Sunday against the Oakland Raiders and did not return to the game. While tackling Raiders wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, Gilmore banged the back of his head on the ground. Gilmore, who made his 14th start Sunday, has three interceptions and 46 tackles.


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