Rex Ryan's next test is breaking Bills' hex at Oakland
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Rex Ryan was stumped when asked if he knew how long it's been since the Buffalo Bills last won at Oakland.
"Fifty years ago? Phew," the Bills coach said Monday when informed of the answer before correctly guessing Jack Kemp was the quarterback in that 31-10 win in 1966. "That's amazing. Woof. You talk about a drought."
Not including a 1-2 record against the Los Angeles-based Raiders, the Bills have lost their past eight games at Oakland. That includes Buffalo's most recent visit, a 26-24 loss in 2014 that eliminated the Bills from playoff contention.
As if Ryan and the Bills (6-5) needed another reminder of how daunting their bid might be to manufacture a late-season playoff push that resumes at the AFC West-leading Raiders (9-2) on Sunday.
"I don't know if it's extra motivation that this team's got this record or whatever. They've got that record because they earned it," Ryan said. "We know our backs are to the wall regardless of who we play. So they're going to get our best shot one way or the other."
The Bills have shown perseverance in overcoming a rash of injuries and second-half deficits to win each of their past two games. Buffalo followed a 16-12 victory at Cincinnati by exchanging leads five times in the second half to pull out a 28-21 win over Jacksonville on Sunday.
Ryan acknowledged the Bills haven't been perfect. And yet, he's not complaining about how his team has bounced back from a four-game skid to have a winning record through 11 games for just the fourth time since the Bills' 16-season playoff drought began in 2000.
"I liked the fact that we were resilient, we stayed the course and we found a way to get it done," he said.
It won't get much easier this weekend given how depleted the Bills might be as a result of injuries. Ryan was unable to provide any definitive updates on the status of players hurt against Jacksonville.
It's a group that includes starting cornerback Ronald Darby (concussion protocol), starting defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (strained abdomen) and backup receiver Walt Powell (left ankle). And then there are receivers Robert Woods (left knee) and Percy Harvin (migraines), who were sidelined the previous week.
On the bright side, Ryan said backup running back Mike Gillislee is expected to return after missing one game with a hamstring injury. He was also encouraged by how receiver Sammy Watkins and running back LeSean McCoy performed despite their injuries.
Watkins had three catches for 80 yards, including a 62-yarder, in his first game in nine weeks since aggravating an injury to his surgically repaired left foot. McCoy had 103 yards rushing and scored twice a week after having surgery to repair a dislocated left thumb.
With 153 yards rushing, Buffalo continues to lean heavily on its running attack, which has topped 150 yards in each of its past four games. The Bills haven't had a five-game streak of more than 150 yards since the first five weeks of the 1975 season.
Trailing 7-0, Buffalo overcame a four-point deficit for just the second time in two seasons under quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
NOTES: The Bills' 20 touchdowns rushing this season are already tied for fourth on the team list, and are six short of the franchise record set in 1975. ... Buffalo's six giveaways are the fewest through 11 games in league history, breaking the old record of eight shared by five teams. ... Including playoffs, the Bills are 19-20 against the Raiders, and 5-12 overall at Oakland.
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