Week 3: Bills Rally To Beat Raiders 24-23
Last second FG by Lindell overcomes sloppy play for win.
by Steve Saslow
Last week the Bills did what winning teams do, they won a big road game against a playoff caliber opponent. This week they did another thing that winning teams do, they beat a team they should beat on a day when they had no business beating anybody at least until the fourth quarter started. The result was a comeback win as shocking as the loss would have been. Rian Lindell nailed the 38 yard field goal as time expired to give the Bills the 24-23 win in a game they trailed by nine points twice in the fourth quarter.
The wild fourth quarter saw the offense awaken with 17 points but they still had to overcome the mistakes that marred this team most of the game. They never quit as they scored 10 points in the final 4:03 to get the win. Roscoe Parrish caught a 14 yard touchdown pass to pull the Bills to back within two for the second time of the fourth quarter. The defense held the Raiders to a three and out allowing Trent Edwards to move the team down the field to setup the winning kick.
What was so impressive about the comeback was that the wind was taken out of their sails of the fans after the Raiders supposedly put the game away with a shocking big play by their offense. On a third and 10 with the stands in a frenzy, the Raiders beat the Bills in a way they shouldn't of, with the passing game. DeMarcus Russell found Johnnie Lee Higgins (who?) with a perfectly timed slant pass that split defenders and went 84 yards for a touchdown to give the Raiders the 23-14 lead.
This was thought to be the dagger in the hearts of the Bills since they used 16 plays to go 96 yards and overcame more dropped passes and penalties to Marshawn Lynch's second touchdown of the game to make it 16-14. The fans were fired up and with over seven minutes to play they had all the confidence in the world that the Bills would win the game but the Raiders would not go away quietly.
When the defense failed them on the big play, the offense never gave up and Edwards continued to make big plays as he suddenly had time to throw and receivers open in the final quarter and would score all three times they had the ball which is what winning teams do.
The Raiders got off to a fast start thanks to a resounding field position edge. It started on the first play of the game as they returned the opening kickoff, after the Bills deferred to the second half, 69 yards to setup the first of three first half Sebastian Janikowski field goals.
The Raiders held the field position edge most of the game as they used good returns and coverage units along with the excellent punting of Shane Lechler to keep the Bills pinned deep in their own territory. They would parlay the advantage into another field goal to take a 6-0 lead.
The Bills had their chance to take over the game in the 2nd quarter when Paul Posluszny recovered a fumble to setup a nice Marshawn Lynch 14 yard touchdown run to give the Bills one of their few bright spots early in the day and a 7-6 lead.
They appeared to be controlling the game until they started getting careless with the football and a Trent Edwards fumble setup another Janikowski field goal and a 9-7 lead. The Bills constantly beat themselves in this game as Lee Evans lost a fumble late in the first half and kept the Bills from gaining the lead before halftime.
The Raiders opened up their first nine point lead thanks to an Edwards interception on a play when Lee Evans had the ball stripped away. A Darren McFadden touchdown run giving the Raiders the nine point lead going into the fourth quarter.
The players may have been reading their press clippings because they sure didn't play like a legitimate playoff contender until the final minutes of the game when they overcame so much adversity to win the game. Granted it never should have been this close to begin with, they were favored by 9½ points which is more than in any game since 2004.
All the euphoria of the 2-0 start, the inspired play of all three units, the total team approach all left one thing to find out, how would they persevere when they played poorly? A combination of turnovers, very poor field position early, and spotty special teams play along with the one huge pass play put them behind the eight ball but they found a way to win the game. That was more impressive, although more heart stopping, than a blowout win would have been. At least now hopefully they'll learn not to take weaker opponents likely. That's a good lesson with St. Louis looming next Sunday. It's much easier to learn lessons from a win than from a loss.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills game against the Raiders:Gameballs