Khalil Mack vs. the world
The Bills tried their best to keep the Raiders’ all-world edge rusher away from Tyrod Taylor with double- and triple-teams. To paraphrase boxing legend Joe Louis, Taylor could run but he couldn’t hide. Mack snuffed out any hope of a Bills comeback in the fourth quarter by creating an interception and then recovering a fumble after sacking Taylor. On the INT play, Mack beat Jordan Mills one on one with speed around the edge. On the sack-fumble play, Mike Gillislee was behind Mills waiting to apply a double-team block, but Mack beat the tackle with a bull rush to the inside. On the drive before the INT, Mack beat a double-team to hit Taylor’s elbow and force a punt. In the second quarter, Mack defeated a lead block by Jerome Felton (you don’t see that often) to tackle LeSean McCoy for a 2-yard loss.
Michael Crabtree vs. zone defenses
Crabtree is what an elite No. 2 NFL receiver looks like. The eighth-year pro was the 10th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. He has 60 or more catches each of his last five full seasons. He now has 16 TD catches in the past two seasons. This is a guy who still holds the NCAA freshman records for catches (134) and TD catches (22) in a single season. He beat the Bills for seven catches, 74 yards and a touchdown. Crabtree is a precise route runner, and Derek Carr knew exactly where to find him against zone coverages when the up-tempo Raiders had the Bills on their heels in the second half. Raiders coordinator Bill Musgrave does a good job of using formations to get Crabtree isolated on the weaker cornerback on the field. That happened on the 3-yard TD pass against Kevon Seymour.
Raiders vs. Bills red-zone defense
The Bills’ defense continued its red-zone slump. Buffalo was first in the NFL in red-zone defense through seven weeks of the season. But the Bills now have allowed touchdowns on 14 of their opponents last 16 trips inside the 20-yard line. That’s an 87 percent success rate for opponents over that stretch. For the season, Buffalo is allowing TDs on 57.9 percent of red-zone possessions. Pittsburgh is leading the NFL at 41 percent.
On their first two second-half TD drives, precise passes by Derek Carr against zone coverage and a three-man rush were the keys to TD conversions. On the Raiders’ final TD, they simply ran the ball the final 17 yards of the drive against a tired Bills front. Oakland is very good in the red zone. The Raiders entered the game eighth in the NFL and are converting 64 percent of trips into TDs.