OK, so where does this one rank?
Buffalo has fallen apart numerous times over the years. You don’t miss the playoffs 16 straight seasons without crumbling dozens of times. The Bills had blown 15-point leads only twice during their ridiculous run of futility, but neither stacked up with their epic meltdown Sunday against the Raiders.
The weird thing about their 38-24 loss to the Raiders was the Bills showed no apparent signs of driving off the road. They were cruising along, enjoying the peace and serenity of a Sunday afternoon drive when suddenly someone jerked the wheel and steered them into a ditch.
Did they fall asleep at the controls?
It certainly appeared that way. The Bills looked like they became too comfortable after building a 24-9 lead and didn’t sense danger ahead. Before they knew what happened, they were pulling themselves from the rubble and assessing the damage. They’ll realize soon enough that a Mack truck was in their path to victory Sunday.
UB star Khalil Mack was quiet for most of the afternoon before showing up with two big plays late in the game. He made the Bills look like Albany or Stony Brook, other teams that shared the same field with him while playing at an inferior level.
The Bills’ defense had already allowed three touchdowns on three possessions to squander their 24-9 lead when Mack showed up casually late. The linebacker/beast/MVP candidate pressured Tyrod Taylor into an interception that led to another score and had a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery late.
Buffalo hasn’t won in Oakland since 1966, so it wasn’t a total shock the Bills added another chapter to their long and disturbing history. The Bills had won two straight. They were in playoff contention. They had a big game on the road. They had a big lead against a division leader.
If you know the Bills, it could only signal one thing:
Mike Gillislee had given the Bills a 24-9 lead in the third quarter with his second TD before the Raiders responded, as expected. Derek Carr threw two touchdown passes and led the Raiders on three consecutive scoring drives before the Bills finally forced a punt – and the punt put Buffalo in a hole from its own 4-yard line. One play later, Mack forced Taylor into an interception. Later, he recorded a pass-rushing hat trick with a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery.
Buffalo is 6-6 and will need to win its final four games to have a chance at the playoffs. It’s unlikely. The Bills were battling to get into position Sunday. They had the Raiders on the run but never running for cover.
It turned around so fast.
The Bills’ offense, admirable in the first half, scored touchdowns on its first two possessions in the third quarter before it fell silent. The defense fell apart. The special teams gave up two good punt returns. The Bills did what they have done throughout their 16-year playoff drought. They crumbled.
McCoy ripped off a 75-yard run and rushed for 103 yards against the Jaguars, but he was ineffective for most of the game. It was a different story Sunday. He gained 50 yards on 10 carries before popping a 54-yard run to start the third quarter. Taylor scored from the 12 on the next play.
Buffalo showed up ready to play a team that many believed was considerably better despite the three-point spread. The Raiders’ 9-2 record, while undeniable, was misleading. Two victories came by a single point, two others by a field goal and another in overtime. To me, anyway, the Raiders were vulnerable.
The Bills were in control. They were on their way. In the end, they were left staggering on the side of the road, wondering what hit them and checking for a license plate.