OPINION: Arrow Up/Arrow Down: Bills at Raiders

The Bills move to 4-0, but not without some struggles
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The Buffalo Bills beat the Las Vegas Raiders 30-23 and moved to 4-0 for the first time since 2008, and only second time since 1992.

So here we go, starting with the Arrows Up for the fourth straight week:

ARROW UP:

Josh Allen

Allen was dealing, once again, from the get-go. He started hot and stayed consistent, finishing 24-of-34 (70.5%) for 288 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was 12 yards shy of cracking the 300-yard passing barrier for the fourth consecutive week. Allen also added another touchdown run to his stat line after officials, somehow, didn’t give John Brown a touchdown reception one play before that.

Stefon Diggs

The Bills' No. 1 wide receiver was just that, and continued to show why he was worth giving up a first round pick this offseason. Diggs was everywhere, making big catches all day long, including a fabulous high point contested grab on a post pattern in the fourth quarter. His final tally was six catches for 115 yards, for a 19.2 yard per-reception average.

Andre Roberts

Imagine if Roberts actually had more chances. He’s making the most of every punt return this season. He only had one shot on Sunday, and took the ball back the other way 38 yards, setting the Bills up for terrific field position at the Raiders' 45-yard line. Buffalo cashed in with a touchdown that drive. Roberts leads the NFL both with 124 total punt return yards and 15.5 yards per-return.

Cole Beasley and John Brown

I’m lumping Beasley and Brown together because, although neither had eye-popping numbers, both of their games were similar and they made big impacts and huge plays. Beasley caught three passes for 32 yards, including a fantastic touchdown grab at the goal line. Brown caught four passes for 42 yards, including a fantastic grab at the goal line that should have been called a touchdown.

Using the whole roster

The Bills had all six of their wide receivers active for the game and every one of them played a big role for them. Each of them caught a pass, and two of them scored touchdowns. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said last week he believes in using his whole roster and he certainly did at that position on Sunday.

Fourth down call

Midway through the third quarter with the Bills up only one point, they Bills faced a 4th-and-1 at midfield. It was a critical point of the game and decision. Head coach Sean McDermott decided to go for it, and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll called a terrific end-around to wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie, who scooted 14 yards for a first down.

Offensive third and fourth down efficiency

The Bills were 7-for-13 (54%) on third downs and 1-for-1 on fourth downs for a total of 8-for-14 (57%) combined.

Run defense

I know this might look weird to have in the space after watching the game because it doesn’t feel like the Bills we’re all that great against the run, but the reality is the Raiders only managed a total of 86 yards on the ground and the Bills held them to 3.7 yards per-carry. Those are very good numbers.

Josh Norman

Norman may have made the defensive play of the year, simply for what it did for the team and what it represented. In his Bills debut, he was pressed into action after Levi Wallace left the game early with an ankle injury. In the fourth quarter, with the Raiders trailing only by seven and driving in Buffalo territory, Norman punched the ball loose from tight end Darren Waller, then recovered it himself. The Bills' entire defense seemed to change their demeanor after that and played with more of an edge and better. It was a huge turning point.

Darryl Johnson

Johnson flashed several times on defense with big plays, including a third down sack of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and then helping to pressuring him on another sack, and subsequent fumble caused by Quinton Jefferson.

Tyrel Dodson

Dodson didn’t do anything particularly special, but he came in for an injured Matt Milano in the fourth quarter and didn’t miss a beat.

ARROW DOWN:

Running game

The Bills ran for only 2.6 yards per-carry. That’s a low number, and one that would certainly be noticed a lot more if Allen wasn’t throwing the ball so well and the passing game wasn't carrying the offense.

Defensive third and fourth down efficiency

The Bills couldn’t get the Raiders off the field when they needed to most.  Las Vegas was 8-for-14 (57%) on third downs and 1-for-2 on fourth downs, for a total of 9-for-16, which is a way-too-high 56% conversion rate.

Dropped passes

Bills pass catchers didn’t help Allen much, especially in the third quarter. Facing 2nd-and-20 at the Raiders' 46-yard line following a holding penalty, Devin Singletary dropped a screen pass right off the line of scrimmage. On the very next play, John Brown dropped a ball right in his hands while running free across the middle. Brown was still a long way from a first down, but either play would have put the offense back in field goal range had either held on to the ball.

Third quarter issues

Another game, more third quarter woes for the Bills. Coming into the game, they had been outscored 24-7 in the quarter. They came out in the second half and gave up a long scoring drive, letting the Raiders march 73 yards in 11 plays, finishing it with a field goal. Then on the Bills’ first offensive possession, they were forced to punt for the first time all game.

Al Riveron

Here we go again with “what is a catch?” For the second week in a row, the Bills got hosed on a terrible call and subsequent review from Riveron at the league level. Against the Los Angeles Rams, it was Tyler Kroft’s catch that turned into an interception. On Sunday, it was Brown, who appeared to clearly have possession of the ball as it was across the pain of the goal line, but it wasn’t called a touchdown on the field and that was somehow held up.

Josh Allen’s sack in the fourth quarter

Allen’s obviously been terrific this season, but he made a terrible mistake by taking a sack when he shouldn’t have and could have avoided. With 8:13 left in the fourth quarter, the Bills up 30-16 and facing a 3rd-and-18 at the Las Vegas 28-yard line, Allen scrambled around and had plenty of time to throw the ball away, but instead held onto it, took a sack and lost 14 yards, taking the Bills back to the 42-yard line and out of field goal range. An incomplete pass would have given Tyler Bass a 46-yard field goal attempt and a chance to take a three-score lead.

Corey Bojorquez

Bojorquez only had three punts on the day, but the first two were from the Raiders’ 46 and 42-yard line, respectively, and he booted both of them into the end zone. That’s a net average of only 22 and 26 yards after the Raiders took over at their own 20. Both of them should have been put inside the 20-yard line, at least, and maybe even the 10-yard line. Neither made much of a difference in field position.

No points after fumble and stop on downs

The Bills had two chances to really put the game away when the offense took over with great field position. The first was after a huge fourth down stop at the Raiders’ 34-yard line, then after a fumble recovery at their own 40-yard line. They wound up punting on each drive, failing to cash in.

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