Week 7: Black Hole Swallows Bills Again
Oakland mystique takes over in loss.
by Steve Saslow
The Bills headed into the dreaded "black hole" hoping for a different result than any game they have played there since 1966. What they got was the same old, same old in their defeat to the Raiders 38-17. It didn't matter that the Raiders were 1-4 going into the game, the Bills just can't play there. The defense was horrible and a squandered opportunity in the 2nd quarter turned the tide for good.
The Bills were trailing 10-7 when they faced a fourth and one. It was deja vu to last year's game on the left coast. In that game, Travis Henry slipped and was stuffed short of the end zone. In this game, the Bills decided to get cute and hand the ball to Daimon Shelton for the first time this year. He was stuffed as was the running game all day long.
The Bills defense would get one of their few stops of the day, forcing a three and out at the one yard line, giving the Bills great field position. They would get a field goal, the one they would have had if they kicked it from the one a series earlier. That tied the score at 10-10 but it would be a Raider day.
It looked good on the first possession as it has all year long. For the seventh straight game they won the coin toss. For the sixth time in those seven they scored on the opening drive to get an early lead. For the fourth game in the row they scored a touchdown to start the game. The 82 yard drive in 14 plays ended with a Lee Evans touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Unfortunately for the Bills, it would be the second time in those four games that they would ultimately lose.
The Bills much heralded pass defense was awful in this game as the Raiders were able to make plays in the passing game. Randy Moss got into the act despite being very banged up, he would score a touchdown to give the Raiders a 10-7 lead. They would add to that lead just before halftime as they would go 60 yards in nine plays to a LaMont Jordan one yard plunge just before halftime and give them a 17-10 lead.
They would add to that lead on the opening possession of the third quarter with an 80 yard drive on nine plays to another Jordan touchdown, a 17 yard run. The Raiders made big downfield throw after big downfield throw on the two big scoring drives that sandwiched halftime. Terrence McGee allowed a third and 7 completion to Gabriel to extend the drive when the Bills were close to forcing a three and out. That completion sent the statement that Raiders were going to put the game under control in the second half and gave them a two touchdown lead at 24-10.
After the two teams exchanged bobbled snaps, the Bills did march to a beautiful catch and run touchdown by Josh Reed. That got the Bills momentarily back in it at 24-17 but they wouldn't get any closer.
Kelly Holcomb tried to fire up the defense after the Reed score, looking for a stop and a chance for the Bills to drive for a tying score. The opposite happened, as they had all day the defense caved and allowed the Raiders to drive 77 yards in 11 plays. They made it look easy as Jordan scored his third touchdown of the game.
It got downright embarrassing after that, as the Bills defense was getting knifed up the middle by Jordan. He even converted a third and 14. The Bills just gave up in the end and the Raiders poured salt into the wound by scoring a final touchdown with :14 left. Now with a nearly impossible game to win next week in New England, the Bills will almost definitely hit the bye at 3-5. At that point it may be time to go back to the development of J.P. Losman since it would then be back to playing for the future. While they are playing for the future, it may be time to look at young defensive players, because the current defensive lineup isn't getting the job done.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills game against the Raiders: