OAKLAND – These Raiders were down early on. They are never, ever out.
The Silver and Black slogged through two-plus quarters, fell down two scores and then, almost out of nowhere, got hit with a defibrillator and came back to life.
Paddles were charged to a high voltage. They woke up and immediately played some of their best football this season.
If possible after being down double digits in the second half, the Raiders cruised to victory. That’s how dominant they were down the stretch of a 38-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills at the Oakland Coliseum.
The Raiders improve to 10-2, and remain a game ahead of Kansas City, which won earlier in the day to set up a Thursday Night Football showdown at Arrowhead Stadium.
That game means so much because the Raiders took care of business at home.
The Raiders scored 29 unanswered points and the defense forced two turnovers – Khalil Mack was involved in both, naturally – and three three-and-outs while the offense surged ahead.
It was an awesome showcase of power, something good teams do while in a bind.
The Bills ran roughshod early on, but were shut down by effective gang tackling of LeSean McCoy. That left Buffalo in passing situations, where Mack feasted.
He tipped a ball near the line of scrimmage that Nate Allen intercepted easily. Then he virtually secured victory with a strip-sack where he recovered his own forced fumble.
Derek Carr orchestrated a series of impressive touchdown drives, and finished with 260 passing yards and two touchdowns. Latavius Murray finished with 105 yards of total offense and had two touchdowns.
The contrast between early game and late is staggering.
The Raiders were down 24-9 midway through the third quarter but erased that deficit with three straight three-and-outs on defense and 29 unanswered points.
Amari Cooper put the Raiders on top for the first time early in the fourth quarter, using a slant-and-go pattern to get open and secure a 37-yard touchdown pass from Carr.
Second-half heroics offered stark contrast to the first half’s proceedings, where the Raiders couldn’t find the end zone.
They settled for three Sebastian Janikowski field goals, and just a 10-9 halftime deficit despite Buffalo’s hot start.
The Bills charged out of the gate, with 10 points on their first two drives, using short passes and a dynamic, complex run game to consistently move downfield.
The ground game worked particularly well to start the second half. They used two rushing plays to go 66 yards for a touchdown. A 54-yard jaunt by McCoy set it up and Taylor completed the score with a 12-yard planned run.
The Raiders were only down eight points at that point, but things got worse. The Bills ran right down the field again on a 10-play, 54-yard drive completed by Mike Gillislee’s 2-yard touchdown run.
That put the Raiders down 24-9 and into hurry-up mode trying to cut the deficit. They formally did so with a 3-yard touchdown catch from Michael Crabtree, on a drive where the Raiders offense actually looked like itself.
Then the defense got a three-and-out. The Raiders drove right downfield and scored again. It was Latavius Murray this time with his 10th touchdown of the year.
The Raiders kept stopping and scoring to flip a script that seemed to have a tragic ending early on.
Dealing with Bills rushing attack: The Bills sport the NFL’s best rushing attack, which was on track during Sunday’s game. LeSean McCoy was hard to stop, showing great speed on a 54-yard run in the second half.
He ended up with 130 yards on 17 carries, good for a 7.6-yard average. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor is the team’s second leading rusher, and was effective scrambling and on planned runs.
All told, the Bills ran for 212 yards and three touchdowns in this one.
Moment of silence: The Raiders held a moment of silence before Sunday’s game for victims of a major fire in the Fruitvale area of Oakland on Friday night.
The Raiders have also pledged to match donations for victims and their families, up to $30,000, as part of an effort fronted by the A's.
Amerson returns: Raiders cornerback David Amerson returned to action after missing a game with a knee injury. The Raiders defense also got Perry Riley Jr. back from a hamstring strain, though Stacy McGee and Darius Latham were down with ankle injuries.
Rookie running back DeAndre Washington was a healthy scratch for a second straight week. Antonio Hamilton was a surprise scratch. He was expected to be the team’s fourth cornerback.
What’s next: The Raiders have a short week heading into one of the season’s biggest games. They’ll face the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday night in a battle for AFC West supremacy, but must travel two time zones to do it in a scheduling quirk the Raiders don’t like.
The Chiefs kept pace with a dramatic victory over Atlanta where Eric Berry returned a game-deciding two-point conversion attempt to win it late.