Defensive End Khalil Mack
Before the Oakland Raiders played host to the Buffalo Bills Sunday afternoon at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, we took a look at three matchups that would be critical in determining the final outcome of the Week 13 clash.
The Silver and Black made it interesting once again, falling behind 24-9 before coming alive and rattling off 29 unanswered points, eventually felling the Bills 34-28.
Head Coach Jack Del Rio's squad now boasts a 10-2 record, and although we're just over 48 hours out from the team's Thursday Night Football matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, let's review our matchups and see how they played out.
Head Coach Jack Del Rio vs. Head Coach Rex Ryan
With the familiarity that Del Rio and Ryan had with each other – they were both on the Baltimore Ravens defensive staff from 1999-2001 – we knew that Sunday's game at the OACC would turn into a chess match, and it turned into just that.
While the Bills were up just one point at the half, the Buffalo fronts – both offensively and defensively – had been able to control the line of scrimmage against the Silver and Black, but then, as has been the case all season, a switch flipped.
After falling behind 24-9, the Raiders rattled off their best stretch of football in 2016, scoring 29 unanswered points to erase the Bills lead, and eventually secure their 10th win of the regular season.
"There were a couple of things schematically, but I think most importantly we just settled in and started making plays," said Head Coach Jack Del Rio when asked about what defensive adjustments his team made. "Started doing our job. Once we started doing that, I think you saw what we're capable of as a football team when all three phases come together."
Give the Bills credit, through the first two-and-a-half quarters of Sunday's game they looked to be in control, but after the Raiders settled in, and Head Coach Del Rio and his staff made their adjustments, the Silver and Black eventually ran away from the Bills, and showed the type of team they can be when they're executing well in all three phases.
Raiders Defensive Line vs. Bills Offensive Line
As we said above, through the first half, and into the third quarter, you'd have to give the advantage in this matchup to the Bills offensive line.
At the half, the Bills very much looked like the top rushing attack in the NFL, having already run for 98 yards when the teams returned to the locker room.
Then, on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Bills running back LeSean McCoy burst through the Raiders line and galloped for a gain of 54, followed immediately by quarterback Tyrod punctuating the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run of his own, but that's about all the Bills would muster on the ground for the rest of the afternoon.
That first drive aside, the Buffalo offense was able to gain just 48 yards on the ground for the remainder of the game, en route to a 38-24 Raiders victory.
In addition to the Raiders buckling down against the run, Khalil Mack and Co., were able to win their one-on-one matchups, bringing down Taylor four times behind the line of scrimmage, including Mack's strip sack and fumble recovery to put the final exclamation point on the Week 13 win.
Left Tackle Donald Penn vs. Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander
"The Sack Man" came back to Oakland, but returned to Buffalo without being able to pad his stats against Donald Penn and the Raiders offensive line.
Coming into Sunday's game at the OACC, Lorenzo Alexander – at age 33 no less – was having a career year for the Bills, having totaled 10 sacks through the first 12 weeks of regular season action.
Not only did Alexander rank in the top five in the NFL in sacks coming into the showdown with the Silver and Black, but he had at times been a one-man wrecking crew for the Buffalo defense, making life difficult for opposing offensive lines.
However, Sunday afternoon Alexander was the one who had difficulty getting rolling, as Penn and the Raiders offensive line stonewalled not just him, but the entire Bills defensive front.
Once again, the Raiders were able to keep Carr upright the entire game, not really allowing much pressure at all even to get into the vicinity of No. 4, and when all was said and done, Alexander had recorded just four tackles and one quarterback hit.
The Raiders offensive line has shown to be one of the most consistent groups in the NFL all season, and Sunday's effort was just more of the same on that front.