The game was very much a tale of two halves and the first half was all about the Raider offense. The team came flying out of the gate with big plays, and with the help of a Buffalo miscue or two, jumped out to the 20-0 tailwind. While the passing game was responsible for the touchdowns, it was the running game that sustained the effort, and a good thing, too, because aside from the early scores, the passing game was atrocious.
Jack Larscheid and newcomer Luther Carr set the pace on the ground and proved that, when the Raiders could run, they could win, just as they had against the Titans. But the futility of the aerial game made clear how valuable Tom Flores was to this team. Eddie Erdelatz appeared to have alternated Babe Parilli and Paul Larson throughout, maybe by quarters, but they were both inaccurate the entire game and it’s a good thing they had the running game to lean on or it could have been very ugly.
Luther Carr – In his first chance to shine, Carr made good, gaining 71 yards on just six carries. He didn’t show up in the receiving column, but that could easily have been someone else’s fault entirely.
Ron Drzewiecki – Making his first appearance on a score sheet, he scored the team’s second touchdown on a 13-yard reception following a botched punt snap by Buffalo, and contributed a solid 28 yards on seven carries in the ground game.
Alan Goldstein – Caught a pass for the second game in a row, for 28 yards, and given the weakness of the receiving corps on this team, was in line for a regular season roster spot as a result.
Charlie Hardy – He didn’t catch a pass, but he continued to prove adept at blocking on the outside. His block on the third play from scrimmage set Larscheid free to score on his 53-yard catch.
Jack Larscheid – Speaking of whom, Larscheid cemented his spot on the team with another big game. He set the wheels in motion by returning the opening kickoff across midfield, then scored the game’s first touchdown. He had another big play very late in the game, ripping off 55 yards on a run to shift field position and leave the Bills with too far to go and not enough time to make a comeback in the waning seconds. His play was not blemish-free, though. In the third quarter, he coughed it up at the Oakland six leading to a quick Buffalo score that closed the gap to five points and shifted momentum the Bills’ way.
Paul Larson – Larson got his big chance and blew it. He completed just 3 of 13 passes for 38 yards and ran 3 times for 8 yards. Just after Larscheid’s big run that could have salted it away late, Larson threw an interception, giving the Bills a last gasp opportunity.
Billy Lott – A decidedly subpar performance by Lott, though he could still have been feeling the effects of his bruised shoulder. He carried six times for a net loss of two yards and didn’t make a catch for the first time in the preseason.
Babe Parilli – In his first appearance with the Raiders, Parilli showed confidence and poise, but he had a very inconsistent game overall. He did have a hand in all three Raider touchdowns, passing to Larscheid and Drzewiecki for scores, and he showed excellent mobility in the pocket. His rushing touchdown came on a scramble in which he was menaced by three Buffalo lineman and barely escaped with his life.
Dean Philpott – Philpott was the team’s leading receiver, with just two catches for 10 yards.
Tony Teresa – In his first game as a full-time wideout, Teresa was a non-factor, catching one pass for 16 yards.
If the first half belonged to the Raider offense, it was the defense that won the second half. While the offense kept giving the ball to Buffalo on turnovers, the Oakland defense, time and again, came up with the big stop or the big takeaway to preserve the lead in what had become a tight game. Utilizing a bend, but don’t break, strategy, they gave up some yards on the ground, but kept Tommy O’Connell off-balance and made the plays when they were most needed.
Buddy Alliston – Alliston merited his first game mention with a game-saving recovery of Carl Smith’s fumble inside the Oakland ten with less than two minutes to play.
Bob Dougherty – The Bills looked to carry their late first half momentum into the third quarter, but fumbled on their opening drive of the period. Dougherty was there to land on the ball, which led to Larry Barnes’ second field goal.
John Harris – Up 26-21 in the third quarter, Parilli had just thrown a long interception, giving the Bills one of their many second half chances, but Harris stole it right back with a pick of his own off O’Connell.
It was Larscheid’s big return that set the tone in the team’s first game on the road and they never looked back. The team was solid in both the return game and in kick coverage.
Larry Barnes – Barnes made his two field goal attempts, but missed an extra point after a penalty had moved him back five yards.
Wayne Crow – Crow was nothing special in this one, averaging just under 39 yards a punt.