OAKLAND -- Here are how my five takes before the Buffalo Bills' 38-24 loss against the Oakland Raiders Sunday worked out:
1. This game is more winnable than it appears; treat it that way. Let's give a half-check here. Through the first half and into the middle of the third quarter, the Bills did very much treat this game as one it knew it could win -- and should have won.
The Bills were dominating on both sides of the ball on the way to building a 24-9 lead with 9:01 left in the third quarter. Their offensive line was blowing the Raiders' defensive front off the ball as LeSean McCoy and Mike Gillislee continually tore off big runs. The defense also was doing a tremendous job of keeping Derek Carr and one of the NFL's more explosive offenses in check.
Then, it all fell apart for the Bills, as they gave up 29 unanswered points. It was if they recognized that they couldn't compete at the level of the team that entered the game with the AFC's best record while the Bills were hanging on the fringes of the postseason race.
2. Tyrod Taylor gets better protection than he received against Jacksonville, which sacked him five times. Another half-check. Through the first half and into the third quarter, he had decent protection; he was sacked twice. He made good use of the time he had to throw.
But in through most of the second half, the Raiders not only added two more sacks, but caused Taylor to often scramble as they applied pressure from all directions. All-World defensive end Khalil Mack took over the game at that point and the Bills did almost nothing to stop him.
Taylor didn't help his own cause by showing poor decision-making and too often panicking and scrambling rather than maintaining poise and finding open receivers. And there were open receivers that he simply didn't find or overthrew or underthrew.
3. LeSean McCoy makes his presence felt immediately. Check-plus! In the first half, he ran for 50 yards on 10 carries, while Mike Gillislee had 39 yards on four attempts (an average of 9.8 yards per rush) and a touchdown.
At the start of the third quarter, McCoy exploded for a 54-yard gain, similar to the 75-yard touchdown run he had at the start of the third quarter of the previous week's victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars. McCoy finished with 130 yards on 17 carries, an average of 7.6 yards per attempt. As a team, the Bills had 212 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
It was the sort of day the NFL's top-rushing team entering the game was expected to have against the league's 26th-ranked run defense before kickoff.
4. The Bills' run defense makes the Raiders one-dimensional. Check. And it didn't matter, because the Raiders, as they've done all season, made the most of that dimension.
The Raiders' top rusher, Latavius Murray, finished with 82 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 20 carries. However, unlike the Bills, the Raiders are a team that follows the modern NFL script of throwing, rather than running, to win. Derek Carr completed 19 of 35 passes for 260 yards and one score each to his top two receivers -- Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.
5. The Bills' pass defense must step up to the challenge of slowing down one of the NFL's most dangerous passing attacks. Not even close.
Sure, it happened for the better part of the first half, when Carr completed nine of 17 passes for 112 yards with no touchdowns. He caught fire in the second half. And the Bills' defense did nothing to extinguish it.