OAKLAND — Unable to make the playoffs for the 12th straight year, the Oakland Raiders are doing a good job keeping other teams out of the postseason.
Derek Carr threw two touchdown passes, Sebastian Janikowski kicked four field goals, and the Raiders knocked the Buffalo Bills from playoff contention with a 26-24 victory Sunday.
“I can't say enough good things about this team,” interim coach Tony Sparano said. “I love the guys in that locker room. They're fighters. Anytime somebody counts them out, they bounce back. It's a great sign of character.”
The Bills (8-7) needed to win their final two games and get some help to end the NFL's longest active playoff drought at 14 seasons. But they failed at the easiest part â€” beating the lowly Raiders (3-12) â€” and will miss the playoffs for a 15th straight year.
“When you've gone this long and you're right there with a chance, and you put it all on the line and you don't come through, it hurts,” quarterback Kyle Orton said.
Oakland has the second longest active postseason drought at 12 but has done a good job of playing spoiler in the past five weeks, beating Kansas City, San Francisco and Buffalo after starting the season 0-10.
“This team has never really gotten down to the point where we were ready to give up,” safety Charles Woodson said. “It's always been an upbeat attitude with the guys on the team, and it shows out there each week.”
Carr wasn't that sharp, completing just 17 of 34 passes for 214 yards, but the rookie did what Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers couldn't: throw a touchdown pass against Buffalo's stout defense.
He tied the game with a scoring throw to James Jones in the second quarter and then sealed it with a 1-yarder to Jamize Olawale with 2:51 to go.
“You see what that defense did to the best quarterbacks in the league,” Carr said. “When you turn the film on and see what they're doing, you know it's going to be tough. At the start it sure was tough.”
The second TD came after Oakland stopped Buffalo on a third-and-1 near midfield when Ray-Ray Armstrong deflected a pass to Chris Hogan and Carr converted a third-and-22 with a 51-yard completion to Andre Holmes.
Darren McFadden then ran it 25 yards down to the 1, and Carr hit Olawale two plays later to seal Buffalo's fate.
After Janikowski missed a 48-yard field goal attempt, Orton threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods with 1:09 to play to cut it to 26-24. But Woodson recovered the ensuing onside kick to end it.
The Bills came into the game vowing not to overlook the two-win Raiders. But Orton struggled after an early touchdown pass to Sammy Watkins, throwing an interception and posting five straight three-and-outs on Buffalo's next six possessions to put the Bills in a hole they never could overcome.
The Bills ran for just 13 yards despite the return of C.J. Spiller from a broken collarbone. That was their worst rushing performance since gaining 4 yards against Tennessee on Nov. 23, 1997.
“At the end of the day, they got after us up front and they kicked our butt up front,” coach Doug Marrone said. “When you do that, it's difficult to run, pass, do a lot of things.”
Instead of having a playoff berth possibly on the line next week in New England, the Bills can start looking ahead to next season and figuring out what to do at quarterback. Orton failed to get Buffalo over the hump after replacing ineffective second-year player EJ Manuel.
Orton went 32 for 49 for 329 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Raiders got a pair of field goals from Janikowski in the third quarter to take a 19-10 lead, but the Bills managed to stay within striking distance by keeping Oakland out of the end zone.
Buffalo then got right back into it on the opening play of the fourth quarter when Orton connected on a 29-yard touchdown pass to Scott Chandler to make it 19-17.
But that was as close as it would get.
NOTES: The 13 yards rushing allowed by the Raiders were tied for their third fewest since the merger. … Bills DT Marcell Dareus (knee) and CB Stephon Gilmore (concussion) left the game with injuries.