Vic Carucci's Take Five: Besides forcing turnovers, D minimizes big plays - The Buffalo News

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Vic Carucci's Take Five: Besides forcing turnovers, D minimizes big plays

Here are how my five takes before the Buffalo Bills' 34-14 victory against the Oakland Raiders Sunday worked out:

1. Find a way to pressure Derek Carr. Not even close.

The Bills not only didn't sack Carr, but they also only were credited with just one hit on him.

It's amazing that the Bills were able to beat the Raiders by 20 points and not do all that much to disrupt Carr, who threw for 313 yards and one touchdown and was intercepted twice. It should be pointed out that many of the passing yards and Carr's TD toss came when the Bills already had the game in hand.

But the performance disproves the theory that to beat a team with a talented quarterback, you have to get him on the ground or get in his face consistently.

2. Keep the deep completions by the Raiders to a minimum. Check.

The biggest pass play the Bills allowed was a 40-yard completion to Michael Crabtree. It was an impressive performance for a secondary missing two starters, safety Jordan Poyer and cornerback E.J. Gaines. Poyer's replacement, Trae Elston, had one of the Bills' two interceptions on a four-takeaway day.

The longest reception by the Raiders' most dangerous deep threat, Amari Cooper, was 18 yards. Running back DeAndre Washington caught Carr's only scoring throw, from four yards.

3. Take advantage of another team with a vulnerable secondary. Not as much as expected.

Tyrod Taylor threw for only 165 yards and a touchdown. He did have completions of 36 yards to Andre Holmes (who also caught a six-yard TD), 24 yards to Brandon Tate and 22 yards to Zay Jones. But Taylor hardly shredded a defense that seemed ripe for shredding.

He didn't need to. The Bills' defense and running game did plenty to carry the bulk of the load.

4. Show that last Sunday's success running the ball was no fluke. Check-plus.

The Bills ran for 166 yards, including a season-high 151 by LeSean McCoy. That was his second-best output since joining the Bills in 2015. McCoy's 27 carries were his most as a Bill.

For the second game in a row, the Bills' offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and incorporated a variety of run plays for which the Raiders had few answers.

5. Avoid an emotional letdown. Check-plus again.

The Bills seem to be breaking free of the tendency to be flat after emotional wins, such as the one they had against Tampa Bay a week ago. That victory was followed by an impassioned speech by veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams and there was a lingering euphoria from the way the Bills overcame the Buccaneers taking a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter.

The Bills are proving to be a far more mature club than before, showing they can overcome adversity and handle prosperity. Most of that results from the tone that coach Sean McDermott sets by stressing a methodical approach that keeps everything on an even keel. Players almost robotically repeat McDermott's "trust the process" mantra.

There is mostly a businesslike atmosphere in the dressing room, and that goes a long way toward preventing emotions from playing too large of a role one way or another.

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