LAS VEGAS — Not even a banged-up left shoulder can deter Josh Allen.
Shaking off a second-quarter stinger, Allen threw two touchdowns and rushed for another to lead the Buffalo Bills to a 30-23 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.
Carving up the Raiders secondary, Allen meshed well with off-season acquisition Stefon Diggs, who finished with six receptions for 115 yards. Allen completed at least one pass to nine different targets.
“Our guys have been busting their tails in practice and my job is to just give them an opportunity to make a play,” Allen said.
Buffalo, which is averaging a league third-best 30.75 points per game, has opened 4-0 for the first time in 12 years. The Bills were 3-1 last season, when they made the playoffs.
Las Vegas (2-2) lost its second straight game and first inside the shiny new $2 billion Allegiant Stadium. Two turnovers and seven penalties were costly for the Raiders.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr finished 32 for 44 for 311 yards and two touchdowns. Carr, who has yet to throw an interception this season, surpassed Ken Stabler and set a franchise record with 151 career touchdown passes.
But it was Allen’s brilliance in the first half, when he finished 15 of 20 with two touchdowns, that set the tone. His 26-yard strike to Gabriel Davis on the opening drive was his 13th TD of the season, surpassing Ryan Fitzpatrick (12) for the most total touchdowns by a Bills player in the first four games of the schedule. Allen also found Cole Beasley for an 11-yard reception to push Buffalo’s lead to 14-3.
The Bills survived a scare when Allen was taken to the locker room late in the first half with the shoulder injury. Allen said he fell “funky” on his non-throwing arm after sprawling in the air and shovelling an 8-yard left-handed pass to Diggs. He was back on the bench moments later, knelt on the final play of the half, and returned in the second half to pick up where he left off.
“You watch Buffalo’s offence, they do a lot,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “The quarterback can complete passes left-handed. The guy’s a beast standing back there. They got a pretty good attack.”
With its lead cut to one, 17-16, Buffalo’s defence came to life by stopping the Raiders on four consecutive possessions. Las Vegas gave the ball back to the Bills by way of punt, fumble, downs and another fumble before scoring on its final possession.
“We were talking all week we’ve got to find ways to make plays,” Buffalo safety Jordan Poyer said. “The first half, we couldn’t get off the field on third down. Second half we found some ways to get some stops and take the football away. And I think that changed the game dramatically.”
When Buffalo punted with 5:13 left in the third quarter it marked the first time the Raiders forced a punt since 7:50 of the opening period last Sunday in New England. Las Vegas had allowed scores on nine straight non-kneeldown drives.
When the Raiders punted in the third quarter it was the first one Buffalo forced in 14 consecutive opposing drives, dating to the fourth quarter of its 31-28 win at Miami in Week 2. The Bills had combined to force 11 punts in their first two games; they’ve forced one the past two.
Buffalo’s two forced fumbles were its most since it got two in a 21-17 win over Cincinnati in Week 3 of last season.
Las Vegas managed to score its first points on an opening drive this season when Daniel Carlson booted a 54-yard field goal. The Raiders were tied for the second-most opening-drive points last season with 54.
BILLS MAFIA PRESENCE
Las Vegas-resident John Maurer, 59, didn’t waste any time in purchasing tickets to see his beloved Bills for games at Allegiant Stadium, in San Francisco, and in Glendale, Arizona. The lifelong Buffalo fan often travels with daughter Taylor, 26, to see their hometown team. Despite the coronavirus keeping fans outside the venue, it didn’t stop the Maurers from arriving at the Raiders’ new home more than four hours before kickoff.
“Bills Mafia travels all over the country, regardless of whether or not we can’t be in the stadium to support the team,” said Taylor Maurer, whose Bills-themed jacket was highlighted with “Bills Mafia” on the back. “They know we’re out here hanging out there for them.”
Bills: Cornerback Levi Wallace left with a left ankle injury in the first quarter and did not return.
Raiders: Defensive tackle Maliek Collins injured his shoulder in the third quarter and did not return.
Bills: travel to Tennessee next Sunday
Raiders: travel to Super Bowl champion Kansas City next Sunday.