OAKLAND, Calif. – Rex Ryan’s nightmare became a reality.
The Buffalo Bills’ coach called Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack just that last week, and the University at Buffalo product showed why during his team’s 38-24 victory Sunday at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Mack finished with seven tackles, a sack, one pass defensed, a forced fumble and fumble recovery in stuffing the box score yet again.
“Shoot, I’m glad he’s not playing for New England, I guess,” Ryan said. “The guy’s a great player. He didn’t disappoint today.”
Mack came alive in the fourth quarter, first when he got his hand on a Tyrod Taylor pass that led to an easy interception for safety Nate Allen. That set up the Raiders’ final touchdown, ending a run of 29 unanswered points.
“Khalil Mack is really making his mark on these ball games,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. “That interception that he caused, he just keeps showing huge and that’s what great players do. He’s a great player.”
After the Bills got the ball back and drove to the Raiders’ 17-yard line, Mack put an end to that by sacking Taylor and forcing a fumble, which he recovered himself.
“We knew we had to get those defensive stops and stay disciplined in our game plan,” Mack said. “We did that and we shut them down well in the (second) half.”
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Raiders fans serenaded Mack with chants of “MVP, MVP.”
“Was Steph Curry here?” Mack asked of the Golden State Warriors’ star and reigning NBA MVP. “Man, I just got to keep balling out there and make plays.”
Running back Mike Gillislee returned from a one-game absence caused by a hamstring injury to rush eight times for 49 yards and two touchdowns.
His first touchdown came from 1-yard out in the second quarter, and he followed that up with a 2-yard run in the third.
“The offensive line did a great job opening up lanes for me,” Gillislee said. “I just got what I could get.”
On each of his touchdowns, Gillislee got devastating lead blocks from fullback Jerome Felton.
“Felton’s one of the best blocking fullbacks in the game that I’ve been around,” Gillislee said. “He did a hell of a job out there.”
The Bills were held without a sack for the first time this season after entering Week 13 second in the league with 33.
“Very frustrating, just because we want to be able to go out there and contribute to our team,” linebacker Jerry Hughes said. “We definitely wanted to get under his skin, get his jersey dirty some. We didn’t make the game too hard for him. He was able to go out there and complete some passes and lead some key drives, so it’s definitely a frustrating day for us.”
Bills tight end Charles Clay missed the game to be with his wife, Tenia, as she gave birth to the couple’s first child.
That meant Nick O’Leary got the start, with Gerald Christian serving as the second tight end.
They combined for two catches and 26 yards (with Christian making his first career catch) – production about on the level of Clay’s performance for much of this season. The Bills still do not have a receiving touchdown from a tight end this year.
Asked how much not having Clay changed the offensive game plan, Ryan didn’t have much of an answer.
“I have no idea,” he said. “You know, guys practiced. It would have been nice to have him.”
The rest of the Bills’ inactives were: wide receivers Robert Woods (knee) and Percy Harvin (migraines), cornerback Ronald Darby (concussion), tight end Logan Thomas, quarterback Cardale Jones and defensive tackle Jerel Worthy.
Guard John Miller, who had taken every offensive snap this season coming into Sunday’s game, left in the second half to be evaluated for a possible concussion, but was cleared. Running back LeSean McCoy briefly suffered from a cramp in the second half, but returned for the next offensive series.
A total of 29 Bills players supported various charitable causes during the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” initiative that was held in Week 13. The NFL allowed players to wear customized cleats in honor of a cause they were passionate about.
One of the more notable pair of cleats among the Bills were the ones worn by running back Reggie Bush, who honored the memory of Joe McKnight, the former Southern Cal and New York Jets running back who was killed last week in New Orleans.
Oakland native and former Raider Lorenzo Alexander was one of Buffalo’s five captains. He was joined by wide receiver Dez Lewis, cornerback Marcus Roberson, defensive tackle Deandre Coleman and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. Coleman made his Bills debut, while Lewis played in his first game of 2016.