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September 27, 2021

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Live coverage: Turnovers the difference as Raiders fall to Bills 30-23

Raiders fall to Bills

David Becker / Associated Press

Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Vernon Butler (94) helps take down Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Las Vegas. The play was not ruled a fumble.

Updated Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020 | 4:38 p.m.

Las Vegas Raiders against Buffalo Pregame

Las Vegas Raiders take to the field for warm-ups before their game against the Buffalo Bills at Allegiant Stadium Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. Launch slideshow »

The Buffalo Bills danced off the field as Jon Gruden yelled on the Raiders’ sideline and Derek Carr forcefully unsnapped his chin strap walking off the field.

Bills backup defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson had just pummeled Carr and caused a fumble he recovered to all but seal a 30-23 Buffalo victory over Las Vegas. A pair of fourth-quarter Raiders’ fumbles prevented the home team from mounting any real comeback until it was too late in their first-ever loss at Allegiant Stadium.

Buffalo scored its final touchdown about seven minutes earlier off of a fumble from tight end Darren Waller. Josh Norman punched the ball out and recovered, and Buffalo wasn’t about to let the extra possession slip away.

Quarterback Josh Allen completed a 49-yard pass to Stefon Diggs down to the 11-yard line, and Devin Singletary scored on a two-yard rush two plays later.

Allen and Diggs were too much for the Raiders all day in a game they never led. Allen threw for 288 passing yards and two touchdowns, running for another, off of 24-for-34 passing.

Diggs caught six passes for 115 yards.

The Raiders’ offense was just as efficient — gaining 383 total yards to Buffalo’s 326— but the turnovers rendered all the production moot.

Carr threw for 311 yards and two touchdowns on 32-for-44 passing with Waller leading the way with 88 yards on nine catches. Carr found Nelson Agholor near the sideline in the end zone for his second touchdown pass with 1:28 to go, but Las Vegas couldn’t recover the ensuing onside kick to end the game.

It’s a second straight loss for the Raiders, which fall to 2-2 heading into a major showdown on the road next week against the division-leading rival Kansas City Chiefs.

Check back to lasvegassun.com later for more coverage.

Bills 30, Raiders 16 with 11:17 to play

The game has rapidly gone south for the Raiders.

A minute ago, Las Vegas was driving for a potential game-tying touchdown. Now they’re lining up to receive a kickoff facing a two-touchdown deficit.

The change of fortune happened when Bills cornerback Josh Norman forced a fumble on Raiders tight end Darren Waller. Wasting no time following the turnover, Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen hit receiver Stefon Diggs deep for a 49-yard completion.

Devin Singletary ran in a touchdown from the 2-yard line two plays later. Las Vegas has enough time to fight off their first loss in Allegiant Stadium history, but it will need to get to it.

Bills go up 23-16 with 14:48 to play

The Bills started the fourth quarter by adding some much-needed insurance.

Josh Allen snuck in a one-yard touchdown to go with his two passing scores on the day. The punch-in was set up by John Brown, who caught a 15-yard pass that the Bills challenged was a touchdown.

But the initial call of being down at the 1-yard line was upheld. It was a highlight catch from Brown, who snagged the pass right in front of the pylon despite tight coverage from Keisean Nixon and Erik Harris.

Buffalo missed the ensuing extra point after Allen’s rushing touchdown.

Allen now has 217 passing yards on the day. Derek Carr is at 193 yards and will need to answer on the next drive.

Bills 17, Raiders 16 with 8:20 to go in third quarter

Another 4th-and-2, another Daniel Carlson field goal.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden has shown all year that he’s fine with settling for three points, and he just did it again in Las Vegas’ opening second-half drive from the seven-yard line. The Raiders’ defense hasn’t gotten a stop on the Bills’ defense yet, but now would be a good time to start.

Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen is coming back to the field even though he went to the locker room near the end of the first half and continues to favor his shoulder.

Bills lead Raiders 17-13 at halftime

The Raiders will go into the locker room on a high.

With 12 seconds remaining in the first half, Derek Carr hit Jason Witten in the back of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown. It was Witten’s second big catch on the drive as he also caught a 15-yard pass to get the Raiders into the red zone.

Carr directed the 11-play, 75-yard drive efficiently, hitting five different targets including fellow tight end Darren Waller twice.

It may feel like the Bills have outplayed the Raiders, but the home team is down only four and get the ball to start the second half. The total yardage is 183-182 in the Bills’ favor.

Bills lead 17-6 with 4:13 left in first half

The Raiders and Bills have traded field goals over the last 10 minutes of game time.

First, Daniel Carlson finished off a 12-play, 54-yard Las Vegas drive with a 39-yard field goal. Then, Tyler Bass returned the favor for Buffalo after an 11-play, 59-yard drive.

The Bills nearly completed a third-and-15 when an under-pressure Josh Allen flipped a pass to Stefon Diggs, who dove towards the first-down marker but came up two yards short. It seemed like the first big stop the Raiders got all day.

Las Vegas must tighten up its defense to have a shot going forward. Allen headed to the lockerroom after coming down awkwardly on his shoulder from the aforementioned pressure provided by Keisean Nixon. 

Bills 14, Raiders 3 seconds into second quarter

On the second play of the second quarter, Josh Allen hit Cole Beasley for an 11-yard touchdown. The Raiders continue to have no answer for the Bills' passing game as they've allowed 9.4 yards per attempt.

Six Bills already have receptions. The Raiders tried to lean more on the run game on their first drive, but with the score rising, they might not have that luxury for long. 

Bills up 7-3 at end of the first quarter

The Bills lead the Raiders by four and have racked up a 71 yard advantage through the first quarter.

Somehow, the game feels much more lopsided than that, probably because the Bills are currently threatening to score again inside the Raiders’ red zone. Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen has kept up his hot streak with 111 yards on 9-for-11 passing and a touchdown.

The Raiders’ first drive stalled around midfield, and with a 4th-and-2 decision, coach Jon Gruden opted to send out kicker Daniel Carlson for a 54-yard field goal. He converted — it was the same distance as his game-winner in Week 2’s home debut — to keep the Raiders close.

Bills lead 7-0 with 10 minutes to go in the first quarter

The first two plays went well for the Raiders.

The rest, not so much. The Bills scored on their opening possession at Allegiant Stadium and leads the Raiders 7-0 early in the first quarter.

Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen completed six of seven passes for 70 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis. Stefon Diggs had two receptions on the drive for a total of 36 yards.

The Bills extended the drive early when Allen hit Diggs for a 21-yard gain on what was 3rd-and-11 at their own 24-yard line before the Raiders were flagged for offsides. Las Vegas then got no pressure on Buffalo and allowed Allen time to keep the possession alive.

The Raiders brought good news but no big surprises with the announcement of their inactives for this afternoon’s game against the Bills.

As expected, Las Vegas will be thin in the receiving corps as Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards are out with injury. Some suggested Rico Gafford could provide depth, but he was listed as inactive for the fourth straight game to start the year.

From a more positive standpoint for Raiders’ fans, the offensive line is getting closer to full health. Right tackle Trent Brown is still out, but Sam Young will return to presumably fill in and allow Denzelle Good can return to his natural position at left guard.

Nick Kwiatkoski is also back for some defensive reinforcement, as the middle linebacker will make his first appearance since the third quarter of the season-opening win over the Panthers.

Safety Dallin Leavitt and guard Patrick Omameh were the other two inactives, as expected.

GAMEDAY PREGAME

The second-ever game at Allegiant Stadium features the conclusion of the Raiders’ two-week tour of AFC East championship contenders. Part 1 didn’t go so well, as Las Vegas looked rusty on the road in New England as it allowed the Patriots to run all over them en route to a 36-20 victory. The Bills arguably present even more problems. They have one of the most well-rounded rosters in the NFL with high-level talent at every position group. The big question coming into the year was if Buffalo could get the quarterback play to match. So far, the answer has been a resounding yes. Third-year passer Josh Allen appears to have fixed some of his accuracy issues and has taken the NFL by storm. Buffalo has won each of its first three games largely by virtue of Allen sitting second in the league with 1,038 passing yards and 9.1 yards per attempt. The University of Wyoming product has also completed 71.1 percent of his attempts and thrown for 10 touchdowns to one interception.

WEEK 4

• Bills (3-0) at Raiders (2-1)

• 1:25 a.m., Allegiant Stadium

• KLAS-TV, Channel 8

• ESPN 1100 Radio

• Betting Line: Bills -3, over/under 52.5

Favorable matchup: Raiders’ run game vs. Bills’ rush defense

For the second straight year, stopping the run appears to be the Bills’ Achilles heel. They’ve allowed 4.4 yards per rushing attempt dating back to last regular season to rank 20th in the NFL. That’s perfect for the Raiders, which want to employ a rush-first attack. And they want to do it not only with workhorse back Josh Jacobs. Backups Devontae Booker and Jalen Richard have also been productive on the ground, averaging nearly 8 yards per attempt on an albeit limited 13 carries. The Bills have been leading for the vast majority of their time on the field this year, so their shaky rush defense hasn’t hurt them much yet. But if the Raiders can build a fourth-quarter lead, they should have a great chance to ice the victory behind Jacobs and his cohorts.

Problematic matchup: Bills’ pass rush vs. Raiders’ offensive line

Much of the Bills’ shortcomings against the run are self-inflicted and a result of taking a more modern roster-building approach and prioritizing defensive linemen who specialize in pressuring the quarterback more than clogging run lanes. Every player that rotates in among the Buffalo front seven is capable of wreaking havoc in the passing game by collapsing the pocket. The beaten-up Raiders’ offensive line will have its hands full. Las Vegas had done well navigating a rash of injuries up front, including to mainstays Trent Brown and Richie Incognito, through two weeks but regressed against the Patriots. They allowed quarterback Derek Carr to get hit seven times, included getting sacked twice. Rookie guard John Simpson was a particular liability and could be targeted by the Bills again if he’s in the lineup.

Gamebreaker: Nelson Agholor

Ever since the Raiders signed the veteran receiver to a one-year deal at the start of free agency, coach Jon Gruden has been his biggest cheerleader. Gruden, who’s known Agholor since the receiver was a high school standout in Tampa, Fla., has characterized the former Philadelphia Eagle as underrated, reliable and explosive. Now the 27-year-old Agholor will have a chance to prove it himself. With rookie starters Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards both expected out with injuries, Agholor will be the Raiders’ featured receiver against the Bills. He’s excelled in limited action so far, hauling in four of five targets on the year for 71 yards including a go-ahead touchdown in week 1 against the Panthers and a key third-down conversion in week 2 against the Saints. Agholor had a couple high-profile dropped passes during his time with the Eagles, and perhaps unfairly, that’s what he’s been most known for in the NFL. A bigger role with the Raiders allows Agholor a chance to rewrite his reputation.

THEY SAID IT

• “This guy has incredible passing ability. He throws it everywhere. He might throw it out of the stadium if they let him. This guy is really hot right now.” -Gruden on facing Allen

• “Shoot guys, I have to have dinners and dates with my wife at the house. I haven’t taken her out to eat all season, and that’s (three) kids running around my house. I think she’s ready for a date.” -Quarterback Derek Carr defending the safety measures he’s taken after receiving criticism for not wearing a mask at a charity event

• “It’s definitely an advantage, especially for him. He’s very familiar with them. I’ll pick his brain and we’ll get prepared together.” -Agholor on Zay Jones going up against his former team

• “I know he’s top five in receiving yards right now, which just makes me more excited to go against him. It’s going to be a competitive matchup.” -Cornerback Trayvon Mullen on covering Bills receiver Stefon Diggs

Big number: 16

Number of deep completions, which Pro Football Reference defines as passes that travel at least 15 yards in the air, by Allen. That leads the NFL with the second-place quarterback, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, three completions behind him. Buffalo’s vertical attack is going to present a new challenge for the Las Vegas secondary after its first three opponents focused almost exclusively on short passing. Discipline will be key, as cornerbacks Trayvon Mullen and Nevin Lawson will need to stick tightly to the receivers they’re covering and free safety Erik Harris must not be caught out of position deep.

Best Bet: Josh Allen will throw an interception at -150

Allen has been exceptional for three games, but it’s important to remember that it’s just three games. He’s made 28 other starts before this season that were, for the most part, much rockier. Recent performance is important, but a larger sample always holds more predictive value. Last year, his odds were closer to -200 to throw an interception in any given game. This is too much of an adjustment downwards. Allen is also fortunate to have only thrown one interception so far this season, as opponents have dropped three others. Want a specific player? It’s not needed for this prop bet, but look for Mullen or linebacker Cory Littleton to claim their first takeaway of the year off of Allen.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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