There are probably a great many who follow the Bills who are wondering what the hell just happened to them in Oakland. How does a team go from shutting down two of the most dominant passing attacks in the NFL led by the two best quarterbacks in the NFL to getting worked over by one of the NFL's worst offenses led by a rookie quarterback?
In case you weren't watching, the Bills faced Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers in the past two games. The two best quarterbacks in the NFL between them didn't throw for a single touchdown and each threw two interceptions. Neither of them cracked 200 yards either. That is no small accomplishment.
Compare that to the numbers Derek Carr and the Raiders offense was able to put up on them and it's a real head-scratcher. Carr threw for 214 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions.
Sparano attributes the Raiders success against the Bills to the ground game.
Not sticking with the ground game last week in Kansas City is what cost them the game for sure. Derek Carr dropped back to pass 60 times compared to only 16 designed runs.
This week, Sparano was not going to let that happen again.
"Honestly, being able to run the football against that group and run it the way we were able to run it, I think gave us a good chance to be able to [overcome Bills defense]." Said Sparano. "We made some good runs in there. We stood the course. Greg [Olson] did a good job. Early in the game, we weren't really running it effectively. It was one yard, it was zero, it was four. It was six. I just said to him, ‘Stay the course. We're going to be okay here.' There's some things...the looks were too good and I felt like we can make some yards in some of those situations."
As is often the case, and as has definitely been the case for the Raiders in their three wins this season, their ability to run the ball opened up plays in the passing game. Latavius Murray earned the faith of his coaches in their first win of the season over the Chiefs. They stayed with him in this one and it paid off.
With the threat of the run, the Bills couldn't overcommit to coming after Carr all the time. Latavius picked up some big chunks of yards, and then Carr was given time to make some big plays down field as well.
It's the kind of commitment to the run that Tony Sparano is known for and that which he has preached at different times this season. The Raiders had no run game to speak of early in the season. In this game even Darren McFadden got it going. Between he and Murray, the Raiders picked up 140 yards on the ground. It's the second highest run total by the team this season - both of those were wins.