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The Raiders rallied to beat the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night, an accomplishment that would’ve been difficult, if not impossible, without Marcel Reece.
The Raiders fullback was inserted as the primary rusher during a 17-play, 80-yard drive that decided the game. He earned 46 hard yards, and exceeded the season’s carry total in one series. He was effective. He was tough. When the game mattered most, Reece did what had to be done.
He didn’t want to talk after a 24-20 victory, deflecting praise to the quarterback and offensive line. Despite his best attempts, Reece efforts can’t be ignored. Nor should they.
"I felt like that was an opportunity for a big back,” interim head coach Tony Sparano said. “The runs that we were going to make last night were downhill runs. They were downhill, unpopular, in-between-the-tackle runs.
“At that point, I felt like Marcel could give us something there. I’ve seen it happen before. I’ve seen him do it before. He’s a guy that I’m really proud of because he’ll do whatever you ask him to do. He’s been outstanding that way. Giving him the ball in those situations, he was pretty wired up at that point and running the ball hard, which was good to see.”
Sparano saw the tape. He previously recognized Reece’s value as a primary tailback. He was glad to see tough running pay off. He can see the Raiders going to Reece again.
“I can envision doing it,” Sparano said.
It’s been a rallying cry from some time. Reece has excelled as a primary tailback when given the chance. He doesn’t like talking about it – Darren McFadden ranks among his best friends – but his talent is plain to see.
When McFadden and Rashad Jennings missed last year’s meeting with the New York Jets, Reece stepped in. He had 123 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in that game, including a 63-yard score where he showed surprising speed.
He had a stretch of extensive carries in 2012, including a 103-yard performance followed by 74 on 15 carries. He hasn’t had many chances beyond that, but Reece can certainly shoulder the load.
While the Raiders have funneled carries to McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew, the Raiders showed a willingness to go with Latavius Murray and Reece against the Chiefs. The pair could make a powerful 1-2 punch if allowed to do so. At 1-10, with both players under contract through 2016, the Raiders should see if this is the team’s rushing tandem of the future.