Going into Indianapolis, the Oakland Raiders were eager to put another notch in the win column. Following their Week 1 victory, the Raiders laid an egg on both sides of the ball the past two weeks. Luckily for the Raiders, the Colts had their fair share of inactives on the defensive side of the ball. With Colts safety Malik Hooker and linebacker Darius Leonard sidelined, Oakland was able to dominate for much of the game. Players in all facets of the game played well, but the effectiveness of the Oakland Raiders ground game was what helped get this team back on track.
Oakland Raiders Ground Game Plays Huge Role in Week 4 Victory
Balanced and Unpredictable Offense Translates to Success
Rookie running back Josh Jacobs and recently acquired return specialist Trevor Davis put on a show Sunday. Jacobs finished with 79 yards on 17 rushes and secured two catches for an additional 29 yards. Former Green Bay Packer Trevor Davis added in two rushes for 76 yards, including a 60-yard reverse touchdown on the first play of the Raiders second drive. In total, the Raiders tallied 188 rushing yards, over doubling the 81 total rushing yards the Colts had. Their offensive line also did a great job of keeping the Colts defensive front at bay. When all was said and done, Oakland managed just under six yards per carry for the game.
The balanced offensive attack Jon Gruden employed allowed his offense to sustain long drives and dominate time of possession. After forcing a quick punt on the Colts’ first second-half possession, the Raiders went on what was perhaps their best drive of the season. Backed up at their own 10-yard line, the offense methodically marched down the field and ate over nine minutes of clock. Ultimately, a dropped touchdown pass turned seven points into three. But this shouldn’t gloss over the fact that the Raiders offense was executing to the best of their abilities. In the most pivotal play of the drive, a fourth and one from about midfield, Fullback Alec Ingold took his first carry of the season and twisted, contorted, and willed his way past the line for a first down. This was a common theme that reared its head throughout: the Raiders effectively moved the chains by rushing the ball.
Taking the Load Off Carr
Of the Raiders 21 first downs in the game, 10 of them came from rushing plays. Oakland finally has a consistent run game and it’s breathing life into the offense. Derek Carr doesn’t have to go Superman and produce all these game-winning drives like in 2016 because the run game is lifting the weight off his shoulders. In total, Carr had just one more yard passing (189) than the Raiders’ backs’ had rushing (188), and that’s fine. As of now, the Raiders are ninth in the league in rushing, with 125.8 yards per game. This is a vast improvement over their 25th ranked, 101.8 yards per game last season. If the Raiders run game continues to mature and improve, the rest of the offense will be elevated with it.