Mid-way through the third quarter, the Raiders were down 24-9. But then Derek Carr and the offense rallied for 29 points while the defense shutout the Bills for the remainder of the game. How did the defense fare as a whole during the victory?
Tyrod Taylor and Sammy Watkins opened the game on fire, and for a while it looked like it was going to be a long day for the Raiders secondary. But after getting burned time after time, the secondary woke up and shutdown the Bills passing game the rest of the day. Nate Allen deserves credit for stepping up after Karl Joseph went down with a toe injury. Allen intercepted a pass tipped by Khalil Mack which led to a Raiders touchdown. The second shoutout goes to Reggie Nelson who missed multiple tackles that led to huge plays for the Bills offense.
As for the pass rush, Khalil Mack continues to prove that he is arguably the best defensive end in the NFL. Mack is a front-runner for Defensive Player of the Year and may even hear his name in the conversation for MVP. Bruce Irvin also played well and has come on strong the last three weeks. Overall, the Raiders defense was able to sack Tyrod Taylor four times.
The Bills entered the game as the NFL's leading rushing team and it showed for the first three quarters. LeSean McCoy and Mike Gillislee both gashed the Raiders for long games. McCoy finished with 130 yards rushing while Gillislee added 49 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Tyrod Taylor also had a few key runs including a rushing touchdown as well. The unit ultimately finished with a ridiculous 212 rushing yards (7.1 yards per carry) and three touchdowns.
While the Raiders ultimately found an answer to their ground attack, it took way too long and put the offense in a hole. The playoffs are a whole different animal, and waiting until the fourth quarter to start playing defense won't work against the top teams.
Let's just say Ken Norton Jr has to be Derek Carr's biggest fan because if it wasn't for this offense bailing out the defense every week, Norton would likely be searching for a job right now. But when the team is 10-2, it is tough to fire the defensive coordinator. That being said, it will be interesting to see if Norton retains his job in the offseason.
Overall Defensive Grade: C
Marquette King had a rollercoaster day that included a 28-yard shanked punt, but also two punts inside the 20 including a 60-yard bomb. King dancing with the flag was hilarious as his penalty didn't have an outcome on the game, but he needs to be careful in closer games as those flags are unnecessary and can be a killer.
Sebastian Janikowski was money converting his three field goal attempts (all in the first half). Sea Bass also made all three extra points although one hit the upright and bounced in.