ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Turnovers doomed the Raiders in their 34-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. In a span of 4 minutes, 51 seconds over the second and third quarters, Oakland turned the ball over three times. They turned it over three times in their previous three games combined. And the Bills took full advantage, turning those three turnovers into 13 points.
The Raiders simply had a tough time holding onto the ball and keeping their footing in the wet weather, while the Bills did not. In all, the Raiders turned the ball over four times, with two interceptions by quarterback Derek Carr and lost fumbles by running backs DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.
What it means: In losing for the fifth time in six games to fall to 3-5, the Raiders have lost more games at the midway point of the season than they did all of last season, when they went 12-4. The Raiders were embarrassed by Buffalo, especially by LeSean McCoy on his 48-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, when McCoy baited Oakland by holding the ball out for them from about 10 yards out.
What I liked: The Raiders’ offense came out strong, stretching the field and attacking the Bills with the passing offense. In going 81 yards in 13 plays, Carr had consecutive 21-yard pass pickups to Michael Crabtree and Lee Smith to get Oakland to the 1-yard line. And on the scoring play, a 1-yard dive by Jamize Olawale, it was offensive lineman Jon Feliciano at fullback. It was a diverse attack that had Buffalo on its heels on the game’s opening drive. Alas…
What I didn’t like: That same explosive offense seemingly curled into the fetal position after that initial drive, staying there until Oakland trailed by 20 points in the fourth quarter. Offensive coordinator Todd Downing got conservative with a gaggle of short pass plays that did nothing, let alone established a rhythm. Perhaps most telling: Washington, after getting absolutely blasted on a pass across the middle, was not only left in the game, but thrown to again on the very next play in a 7-7 tie. He caught the ball, turned to go up field and was hit immediately, his fumble plucked out of the air and returned for a game-turning touchdown. Sure, the Raiders were missing lead running back Marshawn Lynch, who is serving a one-game suspension for making contact with an official, but the offense ran smoothly without him last week.
Fantasy fallout: Was it all a dream, Amari Cooper going for a career-best 210 receiving yards on 11 catches with 19 targets last week? It seemed the Raiders rediscovered the explosive wideout, but he had just three catches for 26 yards against the Bills late in the fourth quarter.
Return of the (Khalil) Mack?: The Raiders’ reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year does not like talking about his homecoming to Buffalo, where he played his college ball before the Bills passed on him at No. 4 in 2014 and the Raiders selected him one pick later. And after this day, he probably won’t want to discuss this game, either. He had just one tackle entering the fourth quarter.
What’s next: The Raiders return to prime-time television with a Sunday night game at the Miami Dolphins (4-3), who lost to the Baltimore Ravens 40-0 on Thursday. The Raiders will spend this week in Sarasota, Florida, while practicing at the IMG Academy in Bradenton for the second consecutive season.