Top 5 takeaways from Raiders' come-from-behind win over Bills
Raiders 38, Bills 24
The Raiders were in a tough spot, down 15 points without much time remaining. It wasn’t that fact that made it seem like an upset was in the making. It was Buffalo’s unstoppable run game, which the Raiders defense showed zero ability to stop or even slow. There were no signs that would change, so a comeback seemed extremely unlikely. Then the Raiders flipped the switch. The offense rallied to score a quick touchdown, and the defense was determined to validate their brethren’s effort. The defense made some stops, the offense kept rolling and the Raiders completed another great comeback. The Raiders are 10-2, and ready for a fight against Kansas City on Thursday night.
5. Pace helps get offense on track
The Raiders offense struggled to find the end zone for two-plus quarters, unable to finish drives. The typically fluid unit was a tad disjointed, with hiccups that killed promising series. Playing with pace got the offense back on track. Coordinator Bill Musgrave used tempo after the Raiders fell behind 24-9, which helped establish a rhythm that sparked a tremendous offensive run and allow a huge, yet well conditioned line, to wear the opposition down. Latavius Murray ran well and receivers held passes tight, allowing the Raiders to reach the end zone four times in five series and take control of Sunday’s game.
4. Coaching staff makes smart adjustments
The Raiders get better as the game wears on for a few reasons: 1. They’re well conditioned, 2. They’re confident in the clutch and 3. They make quality in-game adjustments. That helped the Raiders run defense slow the Bills run game and put the Bills in a bind. Inside linebacker Malcolm Smith credited the coaching staff for helping his unit improve as games wear on.
“Our staff does a great job of helping us adjust and figure out exactly what’s going on,” Smith said. “They’ve helped put us in the right position to make plays.”
3. Murray featured more
Raiders running back Latavius Murray’s touch total has increased as the season has worn on, and he is making the most of it. On Sunday, he had 23 touches for 105 yards total offense and two touchdowns, becoming the first Raider since 1990 to have double-digit rushing TDs. Murray has shown improved power rushing inside, which makes him effective around the goal line and reaching the second level, where his breakaway speed can gain chunk yards. This offense runs best when its ground game is working well. It certainly was on Sunday, when Murray was leading the charge and Jalen Richard was a productive accent piece.
2. Mack, Irvin a dynamic duo
Khalil Mack deserves all the accolades he’s getting. The star pass rusher has been awesome during this six-game winning streak, with another clutch performance against Buffalo. He’s working through double and triple teams to make plays, but Bruce Irvin’s efforts should not be ignored. He has three sacks in as many games, and the speed rusher has created significant pressure on the other side that puts quarterbacks in a bind. Mack and Irvin going strong at the same time makes pass protection difficult – they combined for two sacks and 12 total pressures on Sunday -- especially when Mack commands so much attention.
1. Carr a top MVP candidate
The Raiders came from behind yet again. While everyone contributed to Sunday's second-half surge, quarterback Derek Carr was the central figure of that effort. He completed his sixth(!) fourth-quarter/overtime comeback of the season, and threw exceptionally well despite a right pinky still healing from last week’s dislocation. He doesn’t make injuries an excuse, or anything else for that matter. It’s his steady production, calm under pressure and consistent ability to lead his team to victory that has him ranked among a select few worthy of the NFL MVP award. He has competition from Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, New England’s Tom Brady and maybe Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott, but Carr should receive strong consideration if he continues playing this way.