A post-game breakdown of the Oakland Raiders victory over the Buffalo Bills, handing out letter grades to each positional group.
The Raiders have now won six straight games and have moved to 10-2, which thanks to a tiebreaker, makes them the current #1 seed in the AFC.
Although the Raiders won by double-digits and thoroughly outplayed the Buffalo Bills in the 4th quarter, it was not a completely perfect game. Here is a breakdown of each positional group, along with letter grades to evaluate their performance.
Dec 4, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper (89) and running back Jalen Richard (30) celebrate after a 37-yard touchdown reception by Cooper in the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills during a NFL football game at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Bills 38-24. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Derek Carr added to his MVP resume by completing 19 of 35 passes for 260 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with no interceptions.
These may not be stellar numbers for Carr, but he was a bit inaccurate to start the game and really did not get into a real rhythm until midway through the 3rd quarter, in which he led Oakland down the field and connected with Michael Crabtree for the 3-yard touchdown pass.
The rest was history.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends:
The Oakland wide receivers have been a Top 5 group all season, but had one of their more lackluster games of the year. If I counted correctly, the Raiders receivers had 5 drops as a group, as well as two very big drops by Seth Roberts and Crabtree, both of which prevented a touchdown in the 2nd quarter.
Although the group started slow, they would eventually find themselves with a big second half, which included touchdowns from both Crabtree and Amari Cooper. Crabtree would go on to lead the group with 7 receptions for 74 yards.
The tight ends had their best overall game as a unit on the season season. Mychal Rivera came up with 3 receptions for 56 yards and a key grab on 3rd & 10 which set up the eventual touchdown pass to Amari Cooper the very next play. Clive Walford had 1 reception for 18 yards.
The offensive line was as stout as its been all year. “Carr Insurance” was a reoccurring theme throughout the game.
Carr had all day to throw and was rarely pressured when looking downfield. The o-line held the Bills — ranked 2nd in the NFL in sacks — to zero sacks as a team, as well as opened wide holes for the running backs, who totaled for 135 yards rushing.
December 4, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders strong safety Nate Allen (20) is congratulated by defensive end Jihad Ward (95) for intercepting the football against the Buffalo Bills during the fourth quarter at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Bills 38-24. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
As a unit the defensive line had their best game of the season by far, led by none other than the “Mack Daddy” himself, Khalil Mack.
As a group they totaled 4 sacks, which was a season high. James Cowser, Denico Autry and Bruce Irvin all had sacks, as well as Mack, who had a strip-sack late in the 4th quarter. Today was a flash of what could be to come and what we have been wanting all season.
The linebackers make me want to pull my hair out on a consistent basis. Yet again, they were gashed for big runs and could not shed blocks on a consistent basis.
Although Perry Riley Jr. led the team in tackles, the group as a whole did not make any impact plays and were a liability for the majority of the game.
Early on in the game, it looked like Tyrod Taylor was on his way to his 1st career 300 yard passing game. Sean Smith, David Amerson and TJ Carrie had something to say about that.
Taylor started the game hot by completing 9 of 10 passes for well over 100 yards, but was inevitably contained and held to 18 of 35 for only 191 yards passing for the game.
Carrie stepped up admirably in place of injured D.J. Hayden. Per Pro Football Focus, Carrie led all Raiders defensive players with a grade of 84.4. Nate Allen also joined the party and caught his first interception of the season thanks to Khalil Mack disrupting a pass in the 4th quarter.
Nov 27, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders placekicker Sebastian Janikowski (11) kicks a 23-yard field goal out of the hold of Marquette King (7) with 1:45 to play against the Carolina Panthers during a NFL football game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Panthers 45-42. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The special teams was special today. It was a three-way tie for who had the biggest impact on special team between Andre Holmes, Jalen Richard and Sebastian Janikowski.
Holmes nearly blocked a punt early in the 4th quarter as well as downed a punt inside the 5-yard line. The plays Holmes makes on kickoff coverage/punt coverage I feel go unnoticed and are another big reason as to why the Raiders have been winning the field position battle on a consistent basis this entire season.
Richard has revitalized Oakland’s return game. He helped with winning the field position battle with his big 17-yard return, which set up a short field for the offense that would eventually lead to an Oakland touchdown.
Seabass had a bounce back game in which he went 3-3 from field goal range, and although he came close, he didn’t miss a single extra point. Janikowski was good for a total of 12 points and was a huge reason as to why the Bills were only up by one-point going into the half. Hopefully we can expect repeat performances from Janikowski going down the stretch.