ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — With the game on the line and his mother in the stands, Buffalo Bills receiver David Nelson had one thought going over and over in his mind as he found himself wide open over the middle in the end zone.
“Don’t drop this ball. Don’t drop this ball,” Nelson said, recalling his 6-yard touchdown catch with 14 seconds left to seal a 38-35 victory over the Oakland Raiders in a frantic back-and-forth, fourth-quarter finish. “Those are the hardest catches sometimes.”
Nelson, a member of the team’s self-coined “No-Name” group of receivers, and the previously dismissed Bills are suddenly making winning look easy. A week after opening the season with a 41-7 blowout at Kansas City, Buffalo’s red-hot offense showed it could win coming from behind in its home opener.
Ryan Fitzpatrick engineered touchdown drives on each of the Bills’ five second-half possessions in overcoming a 21-3 first-half deficit.
“That was pretty exciting,” said Fitzpatrick, who has helped the Bills produce the second-most points in a two-game stretch in franchise history. “This is big for a football team.”
Fitzpatrick went 28 of 46 for 264 yards and three touchdowns with an interception. Fred Jackson scored twice, his first coming on an electrifying 43-yard run to open the third quarter.
The Bills are 2-0 for only the third time in 10 years, and first since a 4-0 start in 2008. That season didn’t end well, as the Bills finished with a 7-9 record.
And if Buffalo needs any reminders of how much it still has to prove, the New England Patriots (2-0) come to town next weekend seeking to extend their 15-game winning streak over their AFC East rivals.
It’s a different story for the Raiders (1-1), who took a step back in failing to build off of last week’s 23-20 win at Denver.
In blowing a chance to open 2-0 for the first time since 2002, the Raiders’ defense wilted over the final 30 minutes, and against an opponent that last year scored 20 or more points in a game four times.
“Not a whole lot to say other than that effort isn’t going to be good enough,” defensive tackle Richard Seymour said. “We didn’t seem to give the offense any help in the second half. That’s on us. It isn’t good enough.”
The 38 points were the most allowed by Oakland in a loss since a 43-37 defeat to Seattle in 1998. And the Raiders allowed 481 yards — 326 in the second half — and 34 first downs.
“Good job by them, bad job by us,” Raiders coach Hue Jackson said. “When it’s all said and done, we did not finish the game.”
Penalties played a factor. The Raiders had eight for 85 yards against Buffalo after being flagged 15 times for 131 yards against the Broncos.
And cornerback Chris Johnson had a chance to seal the win two plays before Nelson’s touchdown.
Johnson got both hands on a pass intended for Donald Jones in the end zone, only to have the ball bounce away.
“The game would’ve been over,” Johnson said. “I take this loss for the team today.”
The Oakland offense clicked except for a spotty third quarter in which Darren McFadden lost a fumble that helped set up Stevie Johnson’s 7-yard touchdown catch that cut the lead to 21-17.
McFadden scored twice, and combined for 143 yards from scrimmage. Jason Campbell went 23 of 33 for 323 yards and two touchdowns.
Campbell nearly pulled out a victory on the final play. From his own 44, he threw a desperation pass into the end zone, that was intercepted by rookie cornerback Da’Norris Searcy, who outwrestled receiver Denarius Moore for the ball.
The play was so close referee Mike Carey returned to the field 10 minutes after the game was over to announce to a near-empty stadium that a replay review had confirmed the interception.
Searcy certainly wasn’t going to let anyone take the interception away, and was unhappy to learn the officials even reviewed it.
“Once I grabbed it, I told myself nobody’s going grab it away from me,” Searcy said.
Notes: Moore had five catches for 146 yards and a touchdown in filling in for an injury-depleted receiving group that was down three starters, including Darrius Heyward-Bey (knee). … Bills WR Roscoe Parrish is out indefinitely after hurting his left ankle in the second quarter. … TE Scott Chandler also scored for Buffalo on a 6-yard catch. Campbell and RB Michael Bush scored on 1-yard runs for the Raiders.