Raiders triumph over Bills in home finale

O.CO COLISEUM — The Raiders finished the 2014 season at home the right way.

In front of a packed house of loud and fiery fans, Oakland triumphed over Buffalo by a score of 26-24, notching their third win in five weeks.

Running back Latavius Murray ran for 89 yards on 20 carries, and made big plays in key moments. He wasn’t alone.

Quarterback Derek Carr, unfazed by constant pressure and solid coverage, threw for 214 yards, completing 17-of-34 attempts for a passer rating of 89.6. His second half was much better than his first, in which he only completed six of 18 pass attempts.

Head coach Tony Sparano called it a heck of a team win, adding:

“This team is hook line and sinker in. They fight. And they’re tough. They’re in it for the long haul and they’re tough. Tough minded guys. It’s been kind of a roller coaster, it’s been up and it’s been down. But every time we’re down, people want to count us out. We don’t make any excuses, for who, what, when and why for Buffalo, but at the end of the day, we won the football game.”

Defensive ends Khalil Mack and Justin Tuck each tallied a sack, both leading the team with four apiece, and safeties Brandian Ross and Charles Woodson each picked off Bills’ quarterback Kyle Orton.

Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski hit four field goals, and was the ultimate difference. Well, some screen plays did some damage as well.

The Raiders have been focused on their screen game in practice all season, but to this point, hadn’t been able to get it going. That changed Sunday. Carr said:

“That’s so important to slow down a rush like that. … The fact that they were big plays helps out so much.”

The Raiders began the day with 14 players on injured reserve, seven of whom were projected starters, but the backups did enough.

Ray Ray Armstrong, who filled in for linebacker Sio Moore, made some clutch tackles, including one on tight end Scott Chandler for a loss when the Bills were still fighting for a win.

Rookie cornerbacks T.J. Carrie and Keith McGill also made plays on passing downs contributing to the win. McGill nearly went for a pick six, but could not complete the catch. It didn’t matter much, as Buffalo punted to finish the drive.

Carrie finished with one pass defensed and three solo tackles.

Orton ended the day with 32 completions on 49 attempts, 329 yards and three touchdowns. The 49 attempts came as the Raiders defense held running backs Buffalo to only 13 rush yards.

Mack, speaking about the difference in Oakland’s play over the last month, said:

“You can’t really focus on what’s happened earlier in the season. That’s what this team has done a good job of, not focusing on the past.”

Linebacker Miles Burris, who stepped after linebacker Nick Roach was lost for the year and before it even started, showed up big Sunday, with 13 tackles, hands down the most in a single game for the young man. It was still a tale of two halves, though not like it has been.

The Raiders developed a knack for starting games out well, but not being able to finish. That appears to be behind them.

Burris said:

“We were all just putting it together, everyone was doing their job. Its a simple game, if everyone does their job, we’re going to be alright.”

Carr’s first half quarterback rating of 72.7 was helped greatly by extra pass protection and big runs from Murray, who finished the first half with 33 yards on 12 runs.

Oakland helped eliminate a third team from postseason contention in their final three home game. And at the end of the day, Bills coach Doug Marrone was close to speechless:

“They hit the big plays. They hit some of those big runs in the gaps and we did not make those plays. … At the end of the day, it’s 4.2 (yards per attempt) type of runs. When you get those type of runs … you just have to be consistent. You really do, or at the end of the day it’s going to look like a lot and it s a lot.”

Everything is really coming together, and the Raiders are beginning to trend upward. What’s more, Sparano said after the game that he feels like he’s earned his spot as head coach next season. When asked, Carr declined to comment directly, though he did say that he and the team loves Sparano.

Notes

Carr is 25 completions away from breaking the record for breaking the record for most connections by a rookie quarterback. He gets his next chance against a Broncos team that makes teams throw often to catch up. … Bills defensive tackle Marcel Dareus left the game with a knee injury late in the first half and did not return.


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