Damn, it feels so good to type the Raiders’ WINNING score first, at long last. And welcome to the fold, Latavius Murray. Better late than never, though it does make you wonder what took them so long. Murray made the most of his four carries, gaining 112 yards (nearly twice the team’s rushing average per game so far) before being knocked out by a cheap hit from Kurt Coleman that probably will (and should) draw a fine from the league.
In addition to Murray’s brief appearance exposing most of the rest of the run game as a fraud, Derek Carr showed great poise in leading the final game-winning drive, finding Mike Rivera on a key third-down conversion, and getting the first-down on a 4th-and-1 keeper. As expected, getting the go-ahead touchdown with 1:42 remaining gave Alex Smith a bit too much of a chance to come back, but the defense held tight and shut them down when it counted the most.
That penultimate play, the 3rd-and-long sack on Smith that resulted in Sio Moore and Khalil Mack dancing a bit too long deep in the backfield, characterized the season in a nutshell. Justin Tuck has really stepped up his game the last few weeks, and his heads-up timeout call while Moore and Mack were fooling around — while Smith and the Chefs were getting ready to get a free play off against nine defensive players — may have been the single most important call of this awful season. It’s hard to fault players for celebrating, after the season they’ve endured, and they’ve held together as a team admirably, but jeez — you have just twenty-eight seconds to go. It really is those little things, paying attention to the fundamentals and executing them better than the guy across the line from you, that make the difference between 0-10 and the other way around.
Still, it was a great game and a solid win against a very good opponent. The Raiders finally have a complete performance this season that they can take pride in and build on.