Raiders drop heartbreaker on late Bills TD

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Raiders drop heartbreaker on late Bills TD

Sept. 18, 2011
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- The Buffalo Bills will take the win any way they can get it.After a wild back-and-forth fourth quarter, Ryan Fitzpatrick found David Nelson wide open on fourth down for a 6-yard touchdown pass with 14 seconds left to secure a 38-35 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday."I don't know what happened, but I think they misaligned to be honest," Fitzpatrick said, in noting how wide open Nelson was over the middle. "I was lucky enough to see it."Chalk it up to luck, pluck and resilience, because the Bills are showing they're improved.A week after a convincing 41-7 win at Kansas City, the Fitzpatrick-led offense had a 35-point second half in overcoming a 21-3 first-half deficit.Buffalo scored touchdowns on each of its five second-half possessions as the teams traded the lead five times in the final 14:10.Fitzpatrick went 28 of 46 for 264 yards and three touchdowns, while running back Fred Jackson scored twice in the Bills' home opener."I can't recall one quite like that," Bills coach Chan Gailey said. "It was an amazing gut-check by our football team. What they did coming out of halftime was really amazing."The Raiders (1-1) saw the result from a different perspective in squandering a chance to open a season at 2-0 for the first time since 2002."Not a whole lot to say other than that effort isn't going to be good enough," defensive tackle Richard Seymour said. "We didn't seem to give the offense any help in the second half. That's on us. It isn't good enough."The 38 points were the most allowed by Oakland in a loss since a 43-37 defeat to Seattle in 1998. And they allowed 481 yards - 326 in the second half - and 34 first downs."Good job by them, bad job by us," Raiders coach Hue Jackson said. "When it's all said and done, we did not finish the game."And yet, the Raiders nearly pulled off an improbable comeback of their own.From his own 44, Jason Campbell threw a desperation pass into the end zone, that was intercepted by rookie cornerback Da'Norris Searcy, who outwrestled receiver Denarius Moore for the ball.Campbell went 23 of 33 for 323 yards and two touchdowns. Darren McFadden scored twice in finishing with 72 yards rushing and 71 receiving. Moore had five catches for 146 yards and a touchdown in filling in for an injury-depleted receiving group that was down three starters, including Darrius Heyward-Bey (knee).As if the game needed any more drama, officials required 10 minutes to review the final play - Searcy's interception - to determine the call on the field was correct. Referee Mike Carey returned to a near-empty stadium to announce the interception had in fact stood.Seymour didn't think the call would be overturned, and then lamented: "We had opportunities and didn't take advantage of them. That's the bottom line."Two plays before Nelson's decisive score, cornerback Chris Johnson dropped an interception in the Raiders' end zone on a pass intended for Donald Jones."The game would've been over," Johnson said. "I take this loss for the team today."There was also no excusing how the Raiders left Nelson to slip free over the middle.The Bills looked down and out after a dreadful first half which ended with Oakland's Tyvon Branch blocking Rian Lindell's 39-yard field goal attempt.Buffalo then came out running in the third quarter, as Jackson opened the scoring on a 43-yard run.Then came the offense from both teams at the start of the fourth quarter.Jackson gave the Bills their first lead, 24-21, on a 1-yard run 50 seconds into the fourth quarter.The Raiders responded five minutes later, as McFadden caught a swing pass to the right and rumbled in from 12 yards.Buffalo went up 31-28 with 4:48 left when Fitzpatrick capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive with a 6-yard pass to tight end Scott Chandler.Back came the Raiders, who regained the lead 1:07 later when Campbell hit Moore on a 50-yard pass over the middle.Fitzpatrick then led a 14-play, 80-yard drive in which he twice converted on fourth down."Determination," said receiver Stevie Johnson, who scored on a 7-yard catch. "We had the determination. Everybody was just a unit. We came out and did what we had to do."Searcy, certainly wasn't going to let anyone take the interception away. Not Moore, who got a hand on the ball, or the officials."Once I grabbed it, I told myself nobody's going grab it away from me," Searcy said.Notes: Bills owner Ralph Wilson was unable to attend his first home opener in the team's 52-year history because he's recovering from a broken hip. Wilson watched the game from his home in suburban Detroit. ... Wilson did provide a videotaped tribute at halftime, when former defensive lineman Phil Hansen was inducted on the Bills' Wall of Fame. ... According to STATS LLC, the 35 points were the most allowed by the Raiders in a second half. ... Discipline continues to play a factor against the Raiders. After being flagged 15 times for 131 yards against the Broncos, they had eight penalties for 85 yards against Buffalo.

Locals among cornerbacks who can help Raiders early in NFL Draft

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AP

Locals among cornerbacks who can help Raiders early in NFL Draft

The Raiders have an opening in their secondary.

Finding a slot cornerback is a top priority with DJ Hayden now in Detroit. TJ Carrie is an option there, but the Raiders could add a young, versatile talent capable of taking a more prominent role down the line.

That’s true despite the fact Sean Smith signed a free-agent deal through 2019 last year and David Amerson received a contract extension through the 2020 season. Those contracts, however, become pay-as-you-go deals after this season.

The dead money goes away, freeing the Raiders to look for long-term upgrades if they see fit.

Head coach Jack Del Rio loves creating competition and depth, especially at such an important position in today’s NFL. The Raiders like larger, physical cornerbacks with ball skills, and there are plenty in this year’s draft.

Many analysts have the Raiders taking a cornerback at No. 24 overall, and that’s a realistic possibility. They could certainly look to help last year’s No. 24-ranked secondary in the early rounds.

Let’s take a look at some top options available in this week’s draft:

Good fits:There are quite a few quality cornerbacks who could be available at No. 24 overall, even if there’s an early run on the position.

Oakland native and Washington alum Kevin King visited the Raiders during the pre-draft process, and certainly fits what the Raiders like in a cornerback. He’s confident and aggressive, unafraid to use great physical traits to make plays on the ball. He’s tall and long and isn’t afraid to tackle.

USC’s Adoree Jackson has the quality ball skills the Raiders like, and is adept high-pointing the ball. Analysts say he can play several coverage techniques and has the agility to make up for mistakes. He can work in the slot, but at 5-foot-10 isn’t as tall as the Raiders like. They’d have to take him in the first round. He may not last beyond that.

San Jose native and Colorado product Chidobe Awuzie is another interesting local defensive back ready to turn pro. He can play outside or in the slot, and analysts say he has excellent one-on-one coverage skills but needs tackling work. He was a solid slot blitzer at Colorado, and could fill an immediate need crucial against so many three and four receiver sets.

Louisiana State’s Tre’Davious White has experience playing the slot, and could help right away there before transferring outside if asked. He can cover extremely well, though analysts say he isn’t much of a tackler. He might be a tweener as far as the Raiders are concerned, not worthy of the No. 24 pick but long gone before the Raiders pick in the second round.

Central Florida’s Shaquill Griffin visited the Raiders this spring, and rightfully so. A willing run defender with good ball skills and tackling ability who could be available in the third round should intrigue them.

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

It’s officially NFL draft week. Marshawn Lynch still isn’t a Raider.

A contract impasse remained as of Sunday morning, a few days before general manager Reggie McKenzie’s desire for a by-Thursday resolution.

Deadlines, even soft ones, prompt deals. But Marshawn is unique, adding a level of uncertainty to procedings. 

The Raiders would prefer Lynch agree to terms on a new contract so they can acquire his rights from Seattle -- that’s the easier part – and know where they stand heading into the NFL Draft.

McKenzie left several doors cracked during a Friday pre-draft presser, saying Lynch’s presence wouldn’t stop him from drafting a rusher, not having the Oakland native wouldn’t guarantee it, and that there’s always a chance Lynch could come later no matter what happens during amateur selection.

Those things could be true. Or, you know, not. McKenzie prefers mystery this time of year.

Bottom line: The Raiders need a bigger back to pair with smaller, yet elusive runners DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.

The Raiders want Lynch to fill the void. Ditto for Raider Nation, especially the Oakland state. A few free-agent options remain, including LaGarrette Blount. Or the Raiders could draft a back, something the Raiders have done well in later rounds.

They got Latavius Murray in the sixth round four years back, and he provided quality before changing uniforms this offseason. They got Washington in the fifth last time and pulled Richard from undrafted free agency. They could mine talent again this year. Waiting seems more likely if Lynch is around. 

Quality abounds in this draft class, with several worthy of early selections and talent easily found late. Let’s inspect McKenzie’s draft options at running back, should he need one:

Good fits: It’s hard to see the Raiders looking at a rusher in the first round, considering the draft’s depth at the position and major defensive needs. A first-round talent might be considered in the second. If controversial former Oklahoma rusher Joe Mixon is available following a free fall due to off-field issues described in detail here, a running back might come early.

Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara could be another Day 2 option, an explosive talent who analysts say has wiggle and power to create coveted yards after contact. He could be a three-down back thanks to quality as a receiver.

Odds are, however, the Raiders will look deeper into the draft. Wyoming’s Brian Hill was an excellent college producer who runs strong and might fit well into the Raiders rotation. Round projections vary, but he should be available on Day 3.

Pittsburgh’s James Conner offers great power at 233 pounds. He could run through tacklers and wear down defenses for the Raiders’ shift backs. He's also well known for drive and work ethic. He is projected as a fifth or sixth round pick.

Brigham Young’s Jamaal Williams might offer value and power rushing later in the draft. Clemson’s Wayne Gallman has tackle-breaking ability, but analysts say he isn’t a strong pass protector.