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Raiders week 16 Ballers & Busters

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Another home game for the Raiders meant another win for the Raiders. This is a very different team in Oakland than they are elsewhere. It isn't limited to one side of the ball either. When they take the field in Oakland, the offense clicks and the defense dominates. At least that has been the case of late.

These Bills are no pushover either. They were coming off a huge win over the Green Bay Packers in which they made Aaron Rodgers look like a shell of his former self. A week before, they did the same thing to Peyton Manning. It all shaped up to be a beatdown in Oakland. But that's not how it ended up.

And before you think the Bills were looking past the Raiders, get that thought right out of your head. They needed this win to have a shot at the playoffs and after watching the Raiders help knock two other teams out of the playoffs in their previous two home games, you can bet they were not taking the Raiders lightly.

It came down to the ground game. The Raiders stopped theirs dead, with the Bills gaining a grand total of 13 yards on the ground. Alternately, the Bills could NOT stop the Raiders on the ground, giving up 140 yards rushing. We knew it would be a game won or lost on the ground. We just expected the Bills to win that battle, especially with the return of CJ Spiller.

Call O.co the Twilight Zone. And call the guys who made it happen, the...

Ballers

Khalil Mack

Even before going back and looking at the tape, it was obvious Mack had a tremendous game. After looking at the tape, it was even more apparent. He absolutely dominated the Bills offense. Watching him play reminds you of everything you love about defensive football.

Mack is pretty familiar to any Buffalo Bills fan. Most of them watched him a University of Buffalo where he too college football by storm. I think even they were a bit surprised by what they saw from him on Sunday.

Mack made the very first tackle of the day. It looked like a tackle for loss but forward progress made it a tackle for no gain. Either way, it was a stuff. The Bills scored on that drive, but after that, Mack would see to it they didn't sniff the endzone for a good long time.

Mack helped stop the Bills' next drive when he pressured Orton, causing him to rush his throw and Charles Woodson intercepted it. He had a tackle for loss on the next series that led to a three-and-out. He was double teamed on third down on the next series and still got pressure on Orton to force an incompletion for another three-and-out. Next series on third down he pressured and hit Orton as he threw for an incompletion and a third-straight three-and-out. After yet another three-and-out, Mack gave them their fifth-straight three-and-out when he again hit Orton as he threw to force and incompletion.

Mack picked it up in the second half when on consecutive plays he sealed the outside edge despite a double team resulting in a tackle for loss, and then ended it with a sack on Orton for a 10-yard loss.

The Bills would focus on Mack the remainder of the game, routinely double teaming him. This helped free up others such as Justin Tuck who picked things up for Mack against the run and rushing the passer. To begin the fourth quarter, the Bills would find the endzone for the first time since their opening drive.

Mack finished with 5 combined tackles (2 solo), a sack, a tackle for loss, and 3 hits.

Latavius Murray, Tony Sparano

The ground game was the key to this game. Not just Murray's ability to pick get going, but the Raiders' willingness to ride him as their workhorse back. Sparano told Olson to "stay the course" with Murray, and he delivered. The Raiders' had tied it up at 7-7 to begin the second quarter, but the three drives before it and the one after it they went three-and-out primarily because they were not committing to the run. Their fifth series started with Latavius tackled for a loss. They could have went back to the air, but instead handed it to Murray again and he broke up the middle for a 15-yard gain. It was the longest play on a drive that resulted in a field goal to take a 10-7 lead.

Two drives later began with another tackle for loss on Latavius. The next play, Murray caught a pass out of the backfield for a 19-yard gain. Again, it was Murray with the longest play on a drive that resulted in a score on a field goal to extend the lead to 13-7.

The Raiders would next get the ball in the third quarter. And on the first play, they gave it to Murray. This time it was not for a loss, it was for 25 yards. He got the ball two more times in a row and he went for 4 yards and 17 yards. After that they gave it to McFadden and went to the air two times and settled for another field goal.

Murray finished the day with 86 yards on 23 carries. But even more important, he made the Bills constantly aware of the threat he posed which opened things up in the offense.

Stefen Wisniewski

If you were wondering where a good amount of the blocking for those Murray runs was coming from, see the man in the middle. Wiz laid the block that sprung Murray for his first big gainer that went 15 yards and led to the Riders first lead of the game. On Murray's second big gainer, which went 19 yards on a catch, it was Wiz who was down field blocking for him. On the same drive, Wiz was the key block to open a hole for Murray to go for six yards to set up another field goal. Wiz was also among the key blocks to open things up and allow Murray to take off for his 25-yard run - his longest of the day. Two plays later, Wiz was again among the key blocks for Murray to go for 17 yards and set up the Raiders' third field goal of the day. In the fourth quarter, Derek Carr went on a sneak on third and one and Wiz was the head of the spear that surged into the Bills defensive line for the first down. That drive resulted in a much needed touchdown and a 26-17 lead.

Charles Woodson

CWood wasn't perfect in this game. But when the Raiders needed him most, he made big plays. The Bills took a quick 7-0 lead on their first drive. But it was through no fault of Woodson who had two tackles on the drive, one for two yards on a catch and the other a run stuff for no gain. The Bills' second drive started with great field position at their own 46-yard line. They had already converted a third down and were looking to score on their first two drives. Woodson made a tackle on a short catch and two plays later, with the Bills in third and nine, he made a great read on a pass and intercepted it at the 16-yard line.

The Raiders had begun the game with three-straight three-and-outs with the Bills up 7-0. After the interception, the Bills would go five-straight three-and-outs. All the while the Raiders scored a touchdown of their own and two field goals to take a 13-7 lead. That interception proved to be a complete shift in momentum.

To begin the third quarter, Woodson teamed up for a tackle for loss to assist in the Bills sixth three-and-out in their last seven series. The Bills would make a game of it, twice coming within two points. They pulled it to 26-24 with their hopes riding on an onsides kick. Charles Woodson came out as part of the hands team and he pulled in the kick to seal the win.

Do us all a favor, Charles; don't ever retire.

Kenbrell Thompkins

This performance came almost out of nowhere. He led the Raiders in targets (7), catches (5), and receiving yards (90). And he wasn't even a starter. His first catch of the day was his biggest. It came on third and 13. He had beaten his man on a long post pattern and Derek Carr aired it out to him. Thompkins caught the ball for a 50-yard reception to the 4-yard line. It set up the Raiders first touchdown two plays later.

Late in the third quarter, Thompkins caught another pass for 11 yards on third down to keep the drive alive. He would catch another pass on the drive for 8 yards to put the Raiders in field goal range and Janikowski converted for a 19-10 lead. Thompkins had another 8-yard catch to begin the Raiders final touchdown drive and a 26-17 lead. He flashed the potential that the Raiders saw in him when they scooped him up off waivers from the Patriots earlier this season.

Justin Tuck

Tuck was playing good football throughout this game, but he really picked up the slack when the Bills began focusing on stopping Khalil Mack. The one series in the first half that wasn't stopped by Mack, was stopped by Tuck. He got in the backfield and hit Orton to force an incompletion.

Tuck had almost identical numbers to Mack. He had one fewer tackles (4), one more tackle for loss (2), and the same number of sacks (1.0) and QB hits (3). Tuck's sack came late in the fourth quarter to start a series and set them back in 2nd and 21. Orton would throw a crucial interception two plays later while trying to pick up those yards.

Donald Penn

Against one of the most dominant pass rushes in the NFL, Penn was superb. He allowed just one pressure in the game and one run stuff. He also laid a key block on a Latavius Murray 17-yard run that set up a field goal to begin the third quarter with a 16-10 lead. Not sure what else needs said.

Sebastian Janikowski

He missed a field goal in this game from 48 yards out. But not before he nailed 4 of them to represent nearly half the Raiders points in the game. Those field goals were from 45, 36, 38, and 49 yards out.

Andre Holmes

Sometimes a player makes the Ballers (or Busters) list based almost solely on one play. That is the case for Andre Holmes, who had one of the biggest catches in this game. It happened in the fourth quarter with the Raiders holding onto a two-point lead at 19-17 and staring at third and 22. Holmes went long up the right sideline and Derek Carr saw him get open. But Carr, instead of planting his feet and throwing it, inexplicably left a clean pocket, ran out right and threw on the run to Holmes which caused the pass to come up short. Holmes stopped and came back to it and leapt in the air to pull it down for a 51-yard completion. It put the Raiders instantly in field goal range and two plays later, Darren McFadden ran for 25 yards to put them in position to score a touchdown and go up 26-17. Holmes finished with 3 catches on 6 targets for 74 yards.

Honorable Mention

Derek Carr - He had a couple big throws in this game and they came on the same drive - a 50-yard bomb to Thompkins and the 3-yard touchdown pass to James Jones two plays later. He also had a lot of missed throws and completed just one pass out of the blitz on 12 attempts. Mostly what he did was not make any big mistakes, allowing the defense and the ground game to wear down the Bills and pull out the win. He finished with a good line of 17 of 34 (50%) for 214 yards, 2 TD's and no interceptions for a respectable 89.6 passer rating.

Darren McFadden -- With Murray as the smash, Darren McFadden could be what he was meant to be all along - the dash. Aka: complimentary change of pace back. The result was a big 25-yard run that set up the Raiders' final touchdown and 54 total yards on 9 carries (6.0 yards per carry).

Betweeners

Miles Burris

Burris led the team with 13 tackles (9 solo) in this game. But his play overall was a mixed bag. He gave up a 7-yard catch on the Bills first drive that ended with a touchdown. He had three tackles in the next drive which ended with the Woodson interception. He himself ended the next drive with a tackle on an 8-yard catch on third and 13. On the Bills' fifth consecutive thiree-and-out, Burris had a run stuff for no gain on 2nd down to set up third and 8. Then on the Bills' final drive he gave up an 8-yard catch to set up their field goal heading into half time.

On the first play of the third quarter, Burris teamed up with Woodson for a tackle for loss on a catch in the flat. A couple drives later he gave up a catch that went for 31 yards. The drive resulted in the Bills' second TD of the day to pull within two at 19-17. On the following drive he gave up a catch and missed a tackle initially to give up 12 yards before he eventually made the tackle. Then on the Bills' final drive for a touchdown, he was late getting over to help to give up a 34-yard screen catch and run.

Austin Howard

Overall, he did not have a great game. But he escapes Buster status for a couple of key blocks on big runs - the 25-yard run by Latavius Murray early in the third quarter to set up a field goal, and the 25-yard run by McFadden that set up the Raiders' final touchdown. That was the good. Everything else was bad.

On the second play of the Raiders second drive, he gave up a pressure on Carr for an incompletion. In the second quarter he gave up a tackle for loss on Murray. The next series, he gave up a pressure on Carr that resulted in a sack. To begin the Raiders' final drive of the third quarter, he gave up a pressure for an incompletion. On consecutive drives in the fourth quarter he gave up a hit on Carr and a tackle for loss on a run that led to a missed field goal from 48 yards out.

Continue on to the Busters