Mistakes costly in Raiders’ 30-23 loss to Bills

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Well, so much for that fast 2-0 start by the Las Vegas Raiders.

A toxic combination of unnecessary penalties, unwanted injuries and an unapologetic opponent spelled doom for Jon Gruden’s team Sunday as the Buffalo Bills made Allegiant Stadium their own personal playground.

With Josh Allen thinking he was still at Wyoming and playing UNLV, the Bills quarterback shredded the Raiders’ defense for 288 yards and a pair of touchdowns as Buffalo, a 3-point road favorite, remained undefeated at 4-0, winning 30-23. It was the Raiders’ first defeat in Las Vegas, dropping them to 2-2 overall.

I give our guys credit,” Gruden said. “We scored 23 points and we played pretty good at times offensively. But we’ve got to get turnovers from our defense.”

On a day when the Raiders made some unwanted history with their first loss in their new city, there was some positive history as quarterback Derek Carr became the franchise’s career leader in touchdown passes. Carr’s 7-yard TD toss to Nelson Agholor with 1:29 remaining was the 151st of his Raiders career, surpassing Ken Stabler.

“The first time I thought about it was driving to the facility (Saturday),” Carr said of the record. “I took a moment to think about the Snake. Man, he’s the greatest.

“I wish I could have met him, talk to him and learned from him. If we could’ve won, it would’ve been better.”

What kind of day was it for the Raiders? A second-quarter, 49-yard touchdown pass from Carr to Agholor was negated by an illegal formation penalty. Instead of cutting the deficit to 14-10, it was 1st and 15 for the Raiders. Ultimately, they would have to settle for a file goal from Daniel Carlson.

Personal fouls penalties helped keep Buffalo scoring drives alive and you didn’t have to be Einstein to figure out trading field goals for touchdowns was not a formula for success. Such was Las Vegas’ plight as it was chasing the score all afternoon. The Raiders got as close as 17-16 in the third quarter but never got over the hump.

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“It’s a show-me game,” said tight end Jason Whitten, who caught a 3-yard TD pass from Carr late in the second quarter to cut the deficit to 17-13. “It’s a fine line when it comes to execution. The good teams find ways not to make mistakes.”

Allen, who appeared to have injured his left shoulder with just over four minutes left in the second quarter, came back for the second half and led Buffalo on a pair of fourth-quarter TD drives to put the game away.

The Raiders were never able to get sufficient pressure on Allen. They failed to record a sack and their tackling was sloppy as the Bills turned short receptions into long gains which helped sustain drives.

And when Allen tried to go for the big one, as was the case on the 49-yard pass to Stefon Diggs to set up the second Buffalo TD of the fourth quarter, the Raiders were unable to stop him. The fact their secondary is riddled with injuries didn’t help matters.

Diggs was a royal pain in Las Vegas’ side virtually from the start. He made plays, taunted the defenders who were unable to contain him and finished with six catches for 115 yards.

“He’s a great player,” Gruden said of Diggs. “He’s not the only big player Buffalo has. They’ve got a pretty good offense. But he can make plays from the slot and he can make plays from the outside. He’s proven that he’s an elite player.”

Despite having dropped two straight and faced with the daunting task of going to Kansas City next Sunday to face Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, Gruden remained positive and he wants his players to stay focused.

“I like our football team,” he said. “We’ve got some things to clean up but I like the effort.”

Carr is trying to keep his frustration under control.

“I’m sick of losing,” he said. “It sucks. Enough is enough. I’m tired of it.

“I’ve been here seven years. I’ve seen a lot of crap. What’s killing us is ourself. Not them. Ourselves.”

About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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