As for the storylines, where do we begin? Head coach Jon Gruden, general manager Bruce Allen, wide receiver Tim Brown, running back Charlie Garner and offensive lineman Matt Stinchcomb all have Raider ties. Defensive tackle Warren Sapp signed as a free agent after nine seasons as a Buccaneer.
Gruden was the Raiders head coach of four seasons and, in many ways, guided Oakland back to respectability. The Raiders went 40-28 with two AFC West titles and a trip to the conference championship game. Oakland and Gruden never came to an agreement for a contract extension and ostensibly traded him to Tampa Bay for a boatload of draft choices.
The Raiders named then offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Bill Callahan as the head coach. Oakland and Tampa Bay met in the Super Bowl and Gruden enjoyed every minute of sticking it to the Raiders in leading his team to a 48-21 win over Oakland.
Two years later, Gruden follows a 7-9 season with an 0-2 start and Callahan is now the University of Nebraska head coach, where he is attempting to transform the Cornhuskers from John Deere (option football) to Jaguar (West Coast Offense).
Grounding to extremes
The running game as it pertains to the Raiders is a good news/bad news situation. The Oakland defense against the run, which was an abomination last year, continues to progress. The Raiders limited Buffalo to 67 yards on 24 carries.
The Raiders ground game, which was a point of emphasis when Norv Turner was hired as the head coach, continues to struggle.
Oakland ran 22 times for 61 yards in a 24-21 loss to Pittsburgh. That production, however, can be traced to falling behind 14-0 in the first half. Against Buffalo, however, the Raiders never trailed but only produced 73 yards on 26 attempts.
Clock management gaffe
The Raiders had a clock management blunder that was not costly in terms of the final outcome but bears mentioning nonetheless.
Oakland led 7-3 in the final seconds of the first half and facing second-and-10 from the Buffalo 17 and out of timeouts. Buffalo cornerback Terrence McGee sacked quarterback Rich Gannon for a 3-yard loss. The Raiders had enough time to spike the ball and get their field goal team on the field.
Instead several different offensive and field goal unit players were confused. Sebastian Janikowski connected on a 37-yard field goal but time had expired.
"I knew the situation," Gannon said. "There was confusion on what to do. We had people coming on and off the field. It looked pretty bad. We don't need 11 guys to down the ball but you can't have 15."
Special teams no more special
The aforementioned clock management blunder was not the only special teams gaffe. Midway through the first quarter, the Bills were forced to punt. Ray Buchanan vacated the left-side gunner, Kevin Thomas, to go for the blocked punt.
Instead, Brad Moorman completed a 24-yard pass to Thomas who easily got the first down. Also, the Bills got a long punt and kickoff return deep in Raider territory. Those plays were nullified by holding calls but the fact that a hole was even there should open a few eyes.
-- LB Danny Clark totaled 11 tackles and one sack. LB DeLawrence Grant recorded two sacks. Tyler Brayton added 1.5. CB Charles Woodson added one. DE Bobby Hamilton, DT Warren Sapp, and CB Nnamdi Asomugha each tallied a half-sack.
-- Question of the day for readers:Were the Raiders seven sacks more a reflection of Oakland's pressure or quarterback Drew Bledsoe's statue-like mobility?
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org