Three takeaways from the Raiders’ 30-23 loss to Buffalo Bills on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium:
1. So many mistakes — again
The Raiders won their first two games by not beating themselves, but that hasn’t been the case the past two weeks.
They had many chances to make key plays against the Bills that mistakes wiped out.
One of the more notable occurred in the second quarter when Derek Carr completed a 49-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor that was canceled by an illegal formation call on tight end Foster Moreau.
Buffalo’s first touchdown was made possible when Raiders rookie cornerback Amik Robertson let wide receiver Gabriel Davis run by him to get open for an easy 26-yard scoring pass.
Trailing by only a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Raiders tight end Darren Waller fumbled in Bills territory, turning aside a prime opportunity for Las Vegas. The Bills then made the Raiders pay with a 49-yard pass to set up a touchdown to all but put away the game.
A fumble by Carr while driving in the fourth and down two touchdowns all but sealed the loss.
2. To go or not to go?
Both teams were faced with fourth-and-short situations, and both coaches made strikingly different decisions.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden elected to kick field goals on two fourth-and-2 situations in Buffalo territory.
His decision could be attributed to any number of explanations Maybe he didn’t trust his defense if the first down was not picked up. Or maybe he didn’t trust Carr and the offense to convert.
Gruden’s decision was far from a vote of confidence for Carr and the offense, no matter the explanation.
The Bills, on the other hand, had just been stuffed on third down when they faced a fourth-and-1 at the 50-yard line. Instead of punting, Bills coach Sean McDermott went for it, even though falling short would have handed the Raiders tremendous field position in a one-point game in the third quarter.
Buffalo picked up the first down on wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie’s 14-yard run on an end-around. A holding penalty forced the Bills to ultimately punt, but the contrast in approaches was clear.
3. Carr still has plenty to prove
The questions about whether Carr to take the next step and elevate the Raiders to a championship level won’t go away with this loss.
His statistics were comparable to Allen’s — 311 yards passing to 288 — but it was Allen who made the more impactful plays.
While there was plenty of blame to go around on the Raiders’ side, most of it ultimately comes back to the quarterback. Is that fair? Probably not, but the critics will remain unless the Raiders start to really turn it around.
At 2-2, the Raiders have plenty of season ahead. So Carr will have more opportunities to show he is a championship-level quarterback. He just isn’t there yet.