The tide-turning play of Sunday's Buffalo Bills victory over the Oakland Raiders looked like a routine form tackle.
Bills cornerback Leonard Johnson used sound fundamentals and dropped his shoulder into Oakland running back DeAndre Washington after a short check-down pass. But the Bills' defense is on a turnover-frenzy roll, and Johnson said he was thinking turnover all the way.
"When he turned around, I don't think he'd seen me," Johnson said. "In my mind, I was just thinking get my head across his body and try and get that ball. We stress taking that ball away."
The ball popped into the arms of linebacker Matt Milano, who returned it 40 yards for a touchdown. It put the Bills ahead for good, 14-7, and three more turnovers keyed the 34-14 Buffalo rout.
Buffalo won the turnover battle, 4-0, and improved to an NFL-best plus-14 in turnover ratio on the season. The Bills have 17 takeaways.
Oakland led the NFL in turnover ratio last year at plus-16 en route to a 12-4 record. But the Raiders (3-5) remained the only NFL team without an interception this season and dropped to minus-6 in turnover ratio.
Turnovers lead our Ten Plays that Shaped the Game:
1. Fumble-Touchdown. There were just 41 seconds left in the first half when Carr threw a 5-yard pass to Washington at the Oakland 39. Johnson describes the play:
"We were in a zone defense, and I went through my progressions, sat back and saw the quarterback was looking away from me. So my progression tells me if the quarterback is looking away from you when you get to the top of your drop, start cheating to the checkdown."
"I made a play on the ball and Milano did a great job of running to the ball," Johnson said. "We did a great job of having guys around that ball, and it turned into a big play."
Milano had a clear path to the end zone.
"I actually don't even remember," Milano said of his coverage. "We were just playing fast and playing physical. ... I happened to be in the right spot at the right time."
2. Punt-return fumble. Milano kept the momentum going for the Bills just 1:40 into the third quarter when he punched the ball out of the arms of Jalen Richard on a punt return. Mike Tolbert recovered at the Oakland 14, which led to a field goal. Tolbert's leg might have been out of bounds as he recovered, but replays were inconclusive.
3. Another diving INT. Safety Micah Hyde made his fifth interception of the season 4:19 into the third quarter, catching a ball deflected by linebacker Preston Brown.
Brown read the eyes of David Carr, who was looking for Michael Crabtree on a crossing route over the deep middle.
"We were in Cover 2," Brown said. Crabtree "tried to hesitate and then get behind me, and I just tipped it up to Micah. It was a little assist, like in hockey."
Four of Hyde's five interceptions have been diving catches. He said drills with assistant secondary coach Bobby Babich help.
"We practice it," he said. "Bobby has us kind of put our knees on the mat. He throws it, and we just lay out for it and catch it. Shout out to Bobby Babich. He gets us right."
4. Toe-tap No. 1. Bills receiver Andre Holmes kept his toes in bounds on the left side of the end zone on a 6-yard TD catch from Tyrod Taylor in the second quarter.
"I wanted to get it to Shady in the corner of the end zone but he ran into a collision," Taylor said of LeSean McCoy.
Raider cornerback T.J. Carrie fell down, leaving Holmes wide open over the middle but Taylor couldn't pull the trigger due to pocket pressure. Taylor stayed calm and made a sharp throw.
5. Toe-tap No. 2. Holmes kept his feet inbounds on a 36-yard pass down the right sideline that set up a fourth-quarter TD. It was another super throw by Taylor.
"It was just Cover 2, so I had to convert the route I had," Holmes said of taking his route deeper down the sideline. "I just got in the hole" between the cornerback and safety, "and he hit me in the hole. ... I'm pretty good at having awareness as far as where the sideline's at. It's kind of an instinct thing. It really wasn't as hard as it may have looked."
6. Tyrod TD. Taylor reached the ball over the goal line on a fourth-and-1 play to put the Bills ahead, 27-7.
7. McCoy TD. The Bills' back followed Vlad Ducasse and Patrick DiMarco through the hole on his 48-yard TD run to make it 34-14.
8. Hausch money. Stephen Hauschka's 44-yard field goal put the Bills up, 20-7.
9. Icing INT. Trae Elston intercepted a Carr overthrow for Amari Cooper, who was open, with 1:43 left.
10. Slip and fall. The Raiders caught a break on the Bills' first drive. Cornerback T.J. Carrie slipped and fell covering a crossing pass to Jordan Matthews that went for 27 yards to the Oakland 26. Matthews was flagged for offensive pass interference.