The Buffalo Bills defeated the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, pushing their record to 4-0 on the 2020 season with a 30-23 victory. The win came in Buffalo’s first trip to Allegiant Stadium in Nevada, the new home of the former Los Angeles and Oakland club.
While Buffalo struggled at times, the score was really closer than it could have been. Buffalo had a 30-16 lead and was in field goal range in the fourth quarter. Some conservative play-calling and a bad sack taken by Josh Allen allowed Las Vegas a chance at scoring again, and they capitalized.
Here’s how the five Raiders we watched on Sunday performed.
QB Derek Carr
The leader in touchdown passes in Raiders history is now Carr, who threw two touchdowns, numbers 150 and 151 on his career, in a losing effort on Sunday. Carr also lost a fumble, which is somewhat of a habit he has—Carr has lost 27 fumbles on his career and fumbled a total of 57 times. He did extend his streak of eight straight games without an interception, and he also completed 73% of his passes for 311 yards. Ultimately, though, it was the fumble that undid the Raiders, as that turnover ended a promising drive and allowed the Bills to run time off the clock before punting. Carr looked like himself throughout most of the afternoon, taking what Buffalo’s defense gave him while making some truly great throws (a running pass to Hunter Renfrow stands out). Overall, though, Carr wasn’t able to make enough plays to overcome his defense allowing 30 points.
RB Josh Jacobs
Thanks to some shifting along the defensive line, Buffalo was able to shut down the Vegas running attack, holding Jacobs to just 48 yards on 15 carries. He added three catches for another 25 yards. He appeared to tweak a groin muscle at one point in the game, though he never left the contest for any considerable length of time. Overall, Buffalo did a nice job defensively in containing the ultra-talented runner, who entered the game averaging just 75 yards per game on 21 carries per contest. Jacobs has seen his rushing yardage total dip each week, starting at 93 yards and falling all the way to 48 this weekend.
TE Darren Waller
The big tight end had a big game, catching a game-high nine passes (on a game-high 12 targets) for 88 yards on the afternoon. He was shadowed at points by Tre’Davious White, but he did most of his damage in the slot when guarded by linebackers like Matt Milano or Tremaine Edmunds, or by slot corner Taron Johnson or one of Buffalo’s safeties. Perhaps the biggest play involving Waller was a negative one, as he fought through a Jordan Poyer tackle only to be stripped of the football by Josh Norman, who subsequently recovered the fumble. He also dropped a pass that, while high, is one that very well could have been a touchdown had he been able to haul it in while on the run. It was the best of times and it was the worst of times for Waller.
CB Trayvon Mullen
Mullen had a difficult assignment, sticking to Stefon Diggs and John Brown for much of the afternoon. He wasn’t the culprit on Diggs’s big catch in the fourth quarter (that was a zone concept where Diggs beat safety Erik Harris), nor was he the man in coverage on John Brown’s awesome goal-line grab (that was Harris and Keisean Nixon). He wasn’t even the guy who Cole Beasley beat on his touchdown grab (that was Lamarcus Joyner and Jonathan Abram). Mullen performed fairly well given the talent across from him, notching seven tackles on the game.
CB Lamarcus Joyner
We already mentioned him above, and it’s unfair to say that he was beaten by Beasley on that touchdown given that the call was clearly a zone, but Joyner was the closest man in coverage when Allen threaded the needle to Beasley for the score. The Bills had some success over the middle again, and while Beasley wasn’t as great as he had been throughout the first three weeks of the season (he was also dealing with an injury), he still was solid (3-32-1) on the afternoon. Las Vegas ran some zone concepts, hoping that they could cause Allen to hold the ball a little longer and make some mistakes. Instead, he took his time and exploited holes in the coverage to keep the Bills’ offense rolling.