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The 24 minutes that (likely) ended the Bills season

A look at how things went wrong in Oakland.

The Bills playoff hopes were essentially on the line this past Sunday when they traveled to Oakland to play the Raiders. With about 65% of the game completed, they were winning by 15 points. This is how it all fell apart.

3rd quarter; 9:01 on the clock - Touchdown Mike scores his second rushing TD of the game, Dan Carpenter nails the extra point, and the Bills are up 24 - 9 on the 9-2 Raiders in Oakland. The Bills have a 93.9% chance of winning.

3rd quarter; 5:17 on the clock - Derek Carr and the Raiders have just marched the ball 75 yards down the field, scored a touchdown, and took 3:43 off the clock. Their drive included gains of 14, 14, 18, and 19. Carr connected with Michael Crabtree on a three-yard pass for the touchdown. After the Sebastian Janikowski extra point, the Bills are still winning 24 - 16. The Bills have a 81.4% chance of winning.

3rd quarter; 4:09 on the clock - Buffalo’s offense is stymied in a three-and-out. Colton Schmidt’s punt goes 35 yards in the air, and is returned 17 yards by the Raiders’ Jalen Richard for a net of just 18 yards. The Bills have a 70% chance of winning.

3rd quarter; 0:57 on the clock - The Bills defense comes back on the field after a short outing by the offense, facing a short field against the Raiders’ potent offense. Jalen Richard continues what he started on the punt return, gaining 24 of the 38 yards the Raiders needed to score. Latavius Murray finishes the drive with a 1 yard touchdown. Janikowski puts it through the uprights to make it a one point game that Buffalo is leading 24-23. The Bills have a 51.2% chance of winning.

4th quarter; 14:56 on the clock - The Bills double their on-field time with this possession, but only move backwards. An incomplete pass, a run for no gain, a penalty, and another incomplete pass is all that come from this drive. Schmidt punts the ball 39 yards out of bounds. The Bills have a 41.7% chance of winning.

4th quarter; 14:08 on the clock - In just 40 seconds, the Raiders strike again. They only had two positive yardage plays, but they were big ones. A 22-yard pass to Mychal Rivera bails the Raiders out on 3rd and 10 and a 37-yard pass to Amari Cooper puts points on the board. Another Janikowski extra point makes the score 30-24 Raiders. The Bills trail for the first time in the game. Down just six points with nearly a whole quarter remaining, the Bills have a 15.3% chance of winning.

4th quarter; 13:20 on the clock - The Buffalo offense puts together its third straight three-and-out drive. Colton Schmidt’s 48 yard punt is returned 25 yards, but comes back 10 yards due to holding. He nets 33 yards on his third and final punt of the collapse. The Bills have a 15.5% chance of winning, despite the lost time and lousy field position.

4th quarter; 11:06 on the clock - The Bills defense stops the Raiders from scoring for the first time in over a quarter. Unfortunately the stop is followed by a 55-yard punt by Marquette King that downs the team at their 4-yard-line. The Bills have an 11.6% chance of winning.

4th quarter; 10:53 on the clock - Tyrod Taylor is hit by Khalil Mack as he throws and the ball is intercepted by Nate Allen. The Bills drive is over after just one play. The Bills have just a 2.7% chance of winning.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Oakland Raiders Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

4th quarter; 8:34 on the clock - Facing a short field, the Raiders only needed four plays to really cement their victory. The drive ends on a three-yard run by Latavius Murray. The Raiders succeed on their two-point conversion and stretch the lead to 14. This is the end of the Raiders’ 29-point run and brings the Bills’ chances of winning to a meager 0.2%.

4th quarter; 3:29 on the clock - Tyrod Taylor, Lesean McCoy, and the Bills offense make their best Han Solo impression, saying “never tell me the odds!” Starting at their 25-yard-line, the Bills put together their best drive in over 20 minutes of game time. 58 yards later the Bills had 1st and 10 from their 17. Then Khalil Mack struck. He strips Taylor of the ball during a scramble and the fumble lands in his lap. The Bills’ victory chances remain at 0.2%.

Summarizing the collapse

Game Time

The collapse occurred over 24 minutes and one second of game time. The Raiders possessed the ball for 11 minutes and 35 seconds of that stretch.


The Bills offense was abysmal over the 24 minutes. They went three-and-out three times and turned the ball over twice. The only drives that did not end in a three-and-out ended in turnovers.


Oakland’s potent offense kicked into high gear over these 24 minutes. They put up 214 yards on the Bills defense. They also did not go three-and-out, did not turn the ball over, and only punted once.

Special Teams

Colton Schmidt had an awful stretch here. He punted three times and averaged a net of just 30 yards. The Raiders’ only punt went 55 yards and landed on the Bills four yard line.

Win Percentage

When Dan Carpenter hit the extra point after Mike Gillislee’s touchdown with 9:01 left on the clock in the third quarter the Raiders had a 5.3% chance of winning. When Mack striped Taylor and recovered the fumble they had a 99.8% chance of winning, a swing of 93.7. In 24 minutes a Bills win went from exceedingly likely to odds only Lloyd Christmas could appreciate.