As we’ve seen many times before this season, Greg Olson’s offense got off to a slow start with three straight three-and-outs to begin the game. The slow start allowed Buffalo to get their offense going, getting on the board early.
It looked as if the Raiders defense would hold them on third and nine, but rookie cornerback TJ Carrie was called for defensive holding to extend the drive. Kyle Orton responded by finding rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins for a 42-yard touchdown drive, beating second-year cornerback D.J. Hayden.
The Raiders secondary would find it’s groove on the next series, with none other than veteran Charles Woodson setting the tone. Orton looked for his receiver over the middle but the 38-year-old safety made the diving interception to give the Raiders the ball back at the 16-yard line. It was the 60th career interception for the future Hall of Famer.
Rookie quarterback Derek Carr got the offense going late in the first quarter, much due to Carr finding wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins for a 50-yard gain that put the Raiders offense in business at the Bills five-yard line.
From there, it took Carr just two plays to do something that Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning couldn’t do the last two weeks - throw a touchdown pass against the Bills defense. Carr faked a handoff and rolled out to the right and found a wide open James Jones for the touchdown in the back of the end zone.
The Bills lost defensive tackle Marcell Dareus to a knee injury, giving the Raiders more of an opportunity to get their running game going with Latavius Murray. He helped Carr and the offense get the ball back into Bills territory, but it stalled and interim head coach Tony Sparano was forced to settle for a 45-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski that put them up 10-7.
The offense took advantage of another poor punt by the Bills, driving back into Bills territory for another field goal that put them up 13-7 with just under two minutes remaining in the half.
Unfortunately, the score left a little too much time on the clock and Orton orchestrated a drive to get a field goal of their own from 54 yards out, making the score 13-10 heading into half time.
Oakland was able to add on to their lead in the third quarter, but unfortunately the Bills defense held when it had to, forcing only field goal attempts by Janikowski. The Raiders took a 19-10 lead after the veteran kicker connected from 38 and 49 yards out.
After going scoreless in the third quarter, the Bills took advantage of a questionable defensive holding call on defensive end Justin Tuck. Orton and the offense continued to drive down the field, until tight end Scott Chandler beat linebacker Ray Ray Armstrong for the touchdown over the middle, making it 19-17 early in the fourth quarter.
Carr and the Raiders overcame some adversity late in the fourth quarter as they tried to ice the game. Murray broke off another long run, but this time it was negated by a holding penalty on center Stefen Wisniewski, forcing a 3rd and 22. On third down, Carr rolled out to his right and threw it up for Andre Holmes, who made one of his signature leaping catches for the 51-yard grab and the first down.
Veteran running back Darren McFadden showed some burst of his own throughout the game, rushing for 54 yards on nine carries (6.0 yards per carry). McFadden made a nice cut outside on the fourth quarter drive, using his speed to get around the defenders and go 25 yards before being pushed out of bounds at the two-yard line.
It would take Carr just two plays to get the Raiders back into the end zone, essentially icing the game. On second and goal, the young quarterback executed another perfect play call by Olson when he faked the handoff and rolled out to his left to find fullback Jamize Olawale for the touchdown to put the Silver & Black up 26-17 with just under three minutes remaining.
Running out of chances and facing a 3rd and 21 of his own, Orton threw a ball high but was intercepted by safety Brandian Ross to give the Raiders the ball back in Buffalo territory. After three straight runs to kill the clock, Janikowski missed the 48-yard field goal attempt keeping the score at 26-17 but with under two minutes remaining.
Orton and the Bills offense took advantage of some pretty bad prevent defense by driving down the field in just 46 seconds, scoring on a 30-yard touchdown to Robert Woods to bring the score to 26-24.
With no timeouts remaining and just over a minute left in the game, the Bills were forced to go for an onside kick. Fittingly, it would be the 38-year-old safety Woodson to haul in the onside kick, securing the Raiders third win of the season, all against teams with winning records and playoff aspirations.
Mack had another tremendous game, recording a sack and applying pressure on the quarterback all day.
Carr became the 13th quarterback in NFL history to pass for 3,000 yards in his rookie season.
After winning their third straight at home, the Raiders will finish up the season by looking for their first road win when they take on the Denver Broncos next week.