ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- That was Ryan Fitzpatrick under center for the Buffalo, not Bills comeback maestro Frank Reich.And yet, the Buffalo quarterback sliced and diced the Raiders defense like it belonged to the old Houston Oilers in that epic Jan. 3, 1993 playoff game on this same field.Only difference was, those Oilers had a defense; these Raiders showed nothing in the second half against the Bills in their eventual 38-35 loss.
Consider: for the first time since Stats LLC started charting such figures in 1993, a team scored touchdowns on all five of its second-half possessions. That team was the Bills, against the Raiders. On Sunday.To paraphrase boxing announcer Larry Merchant from his in-ring interview the night before with Floyd Mayweather Jr., even Merchant himself would have kicked the Oakland defense's, um, backside.It was that bad. It was even more sad, what with the Raiders offense showing up and taking a 21-3 lead into the half and then re-taking the lead with 3:41 to play on Jason Campbell's 50-yard bomb to Denarius Moore. All the Raiders defense needed was one stop. One."When they did get rolling, it wasn't like they were running something different from what they did in the first half," defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said. "They were running the same stuff. But for some reason, we started helping them out in the second half."There were blown coverages. Sloppy arm tackling. No pressure on Reich, er, Fitzpatrick.It ran from the D-line to the linebackers and through the secondary. It was an embarrassing display that, rightly or wrongly, surely has to have defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan in hot water already with Al Davis, who did not make the trip."Not a whole lot to say other than that effort isn't going to be good enough, period," said defensive tackle Richard Seymour. "We hold ourselves accountable for that."As they should.Buffalo had 25 first downs ... in the second half. The Bills had 326 yards of total offense ... in the second half. They scored 35 points ... in the second half.Perhaps most galling for the Raiders was holding a lead with less than four minutes remaining and the Bills needing to go 80 yards and score a touchdown. Which, of course, is what they did as they lined up on the Raiders' 6-yard line on 4th-and-1 with 18 seconds to play and no timeouts remaining."Finish the game," Raiders coach Hue Jackson said he implored the defense as it took the field for that final, fateful drive.Rather, the Bills finished them. A blown coverage in the middle of the field left receiver David Nelson wide open coming from left to right and he safely cradled Fitzpatrick's throw for the game-winner."I don't know if David's guy got picked or, I don't know what happened, but I think they misaligned, to be honest," Fitzpatrick said. "It looked to be an extra guy on Stevie (Johnson's) side and David obviously made a good catch."Said Raiders cornerback Chris Johnson, who had his own issues on the day though nearly ended things with an interception in the back of the end zone two plays earlier, but Donald Jones knocked the ball away: "Fitzpatrick knew where he wanted to go. It as an easy pitch and catch."Replays showed middle linebacker Rolando McClain leaving his spot and trailing the running back coming out of the backfield on the play, leaving the middle open. Still, no one would finger any particular player for the blown coverage."For a guy to score on the last play of the game wide open, c'mon, man," Kelly bellowed. "Do your job. That's what the man pays you for. Do your job. If you got that guy, follow him to the bathroom."Instead, all that was left was to clean up the mess."They weren't doing nothing different," Kelly said. "They hopped in a draw, run the one-back run, run out of the spread, clog down the middle to slow down the rush and they're going to throw drag routes. And that's what they did. I mean, c'mon now. The third, fourth receiver (Nelson) had 10 catches in the game? C'mon, man. Not a third or fourth guy. Nah. If anybody's going to beat us, Stevie Johnson (should) beat us. Not the fourth wideout. Nah. That hurt. That hurt bad."Just get the man on the ground. And we just didn't do it as a defense for some reason. I don't know why. But we got a six-hour flight to figure out what the hell happened."Indeed, the defense should spend lot of that time looking in the mirror. And beware a punch from Merchant.