OAKLAND -- Well, so much for all those tiebreaker scenarios, and that big finale at New England. The Bills will be sitting home for the postseason for a 15th straight season. The Raiders saw to that Sunday, erasing the Bills' faint playoff hopes with a wild, 26-24, upset at O.com Coliseum.
The Raiders, a 2-12 team, exposed all the Bills' shortcomings in Buffalo's most important game in 10 years. They ran the ball well and made a couple of big plays in the passing game. They stopped the Bills' running game and prevented Kyle Orton from being the difference.
Orton threw for 329 yards and three TDs, but was shaky when it mattered against a mediocre defense. After throwing a 42-yard TD pass to Sammy Watkins on the Bills' opening possession, he and the Bills were utterly inept until late in the day. Orton was outplayed by Oakland rookie QB Derek Carr.
The Bills simply couldn't run the ball, which made Orton's wayward passing even more of an issue. The Bills had just 13 yards on 13 carries, their worst rushing performance in a game since 1997. C.J. Spiller, rushed into a regular role after missing two months with a broken collarbone, had four carries for minus-4 yards. Overall, Spiller had eight touches for 10 yards.
It makes you wonder why Doug Marrone was so insistent on playing Spiller when the Bills had gotten by with Bryce Brown and Fred Jackson in the previous two months.
Meanwhile, the Raiders committed to the run and it paid off in a big way. They rushed 36 times for 140 yards and took full advantage of an injury to Marcell Dareus. For all the talk about their elite defense, the Bills had been average against the run lately. In their previous eight games, they had allowed 130 yards a game on the ground and 5.0 yards an attempt.
The Raiders were the physically tougher team Sunday -- especially after Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dareus left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury.
Run and stop the run? A 2-12 team showed the Bills how it works.
Dareus came back at one point and tested the knee on the sidelines, but then left the game for good. By his absence, Dareus showed just how valuable he is to this Buffalo defense. If management had any hesitation about giving him a monster contract extension after the season, this should force their hand.
Orton hit Watkins for the early TD, but was dreadful for the next 30 minutes. He threw an interception later in the first quarter that swung the momentum Oakland's way and nearly threw another later in the first. Orton threw a pretty TD pass to Scott Chandler on the first play of the fourth quarter to get the Bills to within two, 19-17.
But on third-and-22 from his own 19, Carr threw a 51-yard bomb to Andre Holmes with 5:07 left, setting up a 1-yard TD pass to Jamize Olawale to put the Raiders back up nine. Orton threw another TD pass to make things interesting, but the Raiders held on.
So the Bills fall to 8-7 and out of the playoffs. They go to Foxborough next week, with a chance to finish over .500 for the first time in 10 years. That doesn't seem likely at this point -- or especially reassuring to suffering Buffalo fans.