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Grading the Raiders’ loss to the Bills

OFFENSE: B

Derek Carr is your all-time leader in touchdown passes for a Raiders quarterback with 151, moving past Ken Stabler with a 7-yard toss to Nelson Agholor. But Las Vegas has four fumbles in the fourth quarter this season and Carr has three of them. His latest came when stripped of the ball with his team driving in Buffalo territory and down 30-16. The Raiders were without starters at wide receiver (Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards) and on the offensive line (Trent Browns and Richie Incognito). But there was also more checking down from Carr when chasing a two-touchdown deficit late. The run game wasn’t effective at all behind the hurting front. Josh Jacobs managed just 48 yards on 15 carries, with a long of 16. Las Vegas rushed for just 3.7 yards per carry and a total of 88. Tight end Darren Waller had nine catches for 88 yards, but his fourth-quarter fumble led to Buffalo’s final touchdown that essentially ended things.

DEFENSE: C+

No pass rush isn’t good any week in the NFL. No pass rush against a solid quarterback like Josh Allen of the Bills is a death wish. The Raiders managed just one sack (Maxx Crosby got to Allen after the latter scrambled for what seemed like minutes). Allen, though, wasn’t bothered much at all, completing 24-of-34 for 288 yards and two scores. He also ran for a touchdown. Things were better at linebacker with Nick Kwiatkoski returning from injury to join Cory Littleton (seven tackles, one for loss). Injuries are killing this side of the ball, but when you compound them by allowing opposing drives to continue with foolish penalties like roughing the passer and unnecessary roughness, your margin for victory is nil. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther watched this one from the press box. Not sure it looked much different to him.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B

You might think when a place-kicker like Daniel Carlson hits all three of his field-goal attempts — 54, 39 and 25 yards — assigning an ‘A‘ is the easiest of calls. But you also can’t lose focus for a second against a playoff-caliber team, which the Las Vegas coverage unit did with 2:37 left in the third quarter. It allowed Andre Roberts to return an AJ Cole punt 48 yards to the Raiders’ 45. Six plays later, Buffalo scored and the lead was 23-16.

COACHING: C-

It’s true that Jon Gruden isn’t playing with a full deck because of a depleted two-deep roster. We’re talking some important face cards missing right now. But at some point, even with all those banged up bodies, the conservative badge needs to come off. Gruden twice chose to kick field goals on fourth-and-2 — from the Buffalo 36 with 5:02 left in the first quarter and the Buffalo 7 with 8:41 left in the third. Also, the Raiders need to finally push the envelope when taking shots downfield. It’s true Buffalo was merely protecting a 14-point lead late, but short, underneath routes aren’t going to make up that difference. Next opportunity — at Kansas City.

— Ed Graney Review-Journal

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