The Oakland Raiders hosted the Buffalo Bills on Sunday looking to extend their winning streak, but knew it wouldn't be easy.
Starting quarterback Derek Carr left last week's game against the Carolina Panthers when he dislocated his pinky on his throwing hand in two places. He did return to the game, but wore a glove the rest of the game to protect it.
Carr told the media all week that his pinky was fine, but that didn't stop the Raiders from giving him some extra protection on Sunday by not letting him take a snap from under center. After receiving the opening kickoff, Carr was unable to get his offense going and was forced to punt.
The Bills came into the game with the league's top rushing attack, but came out throwing the ball against a Raiders defense that got off to a slow start.
Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor looked sharp on the opening drive, going 6-for-7 on the 10-play drive that went 72 yards. The Raiders defense ultimately tightened up and held the Bills to a field goal.
It was only a matter of time before the Bills turned to their top-ranked rushing attack, and they did so on their next drive after the Raiders kicked a field goal to tie the game.
The Bills used seven-straight run plays on their next drive, getting into the end zone on a one-yard run to take the 10-3 lead on the Raiders.
It would be newcomer James Cowser that would get the defense back on track on their next series when he sacked Taylor for a 10-yard loss, ultimately forcing a punt to give the ball back to Carr.
After a poor punt and a pass interference call on the defense, the Raiders offense found themselves inside the Bills red zone for the first time of the day. Carr went to his veteran wide receiver Michael Crabtree who dropped the wide open touchdown on the goal line. The Raiders would be forced to kick another field goal, making the score 10-to-6.
The Raiders had one last chance to get on the scoreboard in the first half after the defense forced a punt back to Carr with just 30 seconds left and all three timeouts remaining. Carr went 5-for-5 to get within field goal range before Sebastian Janikowski connected on his third field goal of the day, making it a 10-to-9 game at half.
Head coach Jack Del Rio hoped his defense would come out stronger to start the second half, but that wasn't the case as Bills running back LeSean McCoy busted through the middle for a 54-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage. On the very next play Taylor faked the handoff and went around the right side for the rushing touchdown to give the Bills the 17-to-9 lead.
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave's offense still wasn't able to get anything going and went three-and-out, forcing the Raiders struggling defense to go right back on the field. Taylor and the Bills took advantage with another 10-play drive that culminated in another one-yard touchdown run by Mike Gillislee to take the big 24-to-9 lead in the third quarter.
But Del Rio's team has shown resilience all season long, and that wasn't going to change on Sunday against the Bills.
Carr added to his MVP-like season by driving the team 75 yards in nine plays, which ended with Carr finding Crabtree in the back of the end zone for the team's first touchdown of the day, making it 24-to-16.
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr.'s defense would feed off the momentum change, forcing three straight three-and-outs by the Bills to give the Raiders more opportunities.
And Carr would capitalize on those opportunities.
Following a bad punt by Bills punter Colton Schmidt, undrafted free agent rookie Jalen Richard got things going with a big 21-yard run up the middle. Veteran Latavius Murray would punch it in from one-yard out a couple of plays later, cutting the Raiders deficit to just 24-to-23.
The Raiders next touchdown came on a beautiful route from Amari Cooper, who left defensive back Kevon Seymour stumbling behind him with a pretty route. Carr hit him with a perfect pass in stride, allowing him to run 37 yards and dive into the end zone to give the Raiders their first lead at 30-to-24.
Bills head coach Rex Ryan has seen his team do a solid job protecting the ball all season long, but the Raiders would force the Bills' 7th turnover of the year when Khalil Mack hit Taylor's arm in the end zone and safety Nate Allen hauled in the interception on the Bills 17-yard line. Murray would capitalize by punching the ball in for his second touchdown of the day. Del Rio and his young quarterback would go for the two-point conversion, finding Seth Roberts to make the score 38-to-24 after 29-straight unanswered points by the Raiders.
Down by two touchdowns with about eight minutes left in the game, the Raiders defense played off a little allowing the Bills to drive down the field to the Raiders 17-yard line. But it took the Bills 15 plays to get there, eating up the clock and forcing the Bills to act quickly to give them a chance.
In what looked just like deja vu to last week, it was Raiders defensive star Mack who came up big again. Just like last week against the Panthers, Mack blew by the offensive line and stold the ball out of Taylors hand for the strip-sack and fumble recovery, icing the game for the Raiders and launching them to 10-2 on the year.
The Raider now have a short week ahead of them as they will head to Kansas City to take on the AFC West second-place Chiefs in a big battle.