EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Injury decreased the Raiders' stable of tailbacks from three to none.
Darren McFadden and Jeremy Stewart were ruled out on Friday and Rashad Jennings wasn’t cleared to play after suffering a concussion on Thanksgiving. That left fullback Marcel Reece to do some heavy lifting on Sunday against the New York Jets. The versatile fullback responded well, totaling a career-high 123 yards rushing and a touchdown. Including his receiving stats, Reece had 161 yards total offense.
He kept the running game going strong all game long all by himself. He burst through the line early in the third quarter and rumbled 63 yards for a touchdown that made a 17-point halftime deficit manageable.
Reece couldn’t prevent a disappointing 37-27 loss that was never really close. The result, in Reece’s mind, is all that matters.
“In a loss, individual production doesn’t really matter,” Reece said. “Good stats can be gratifying in a win, but after a loss like this it becomes irrelevant.”
Reece hasn’t touched the ball much this season despite athletic gifts and past production. He averaged just 3.7 touches per game entering Sunday, and proved that he deserves more on a regular basis.
He averaged 8.47 yards per touch against the Jets and was strong save a few pass drops.
“Overall, I thought he did a nice job running the football,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “…The big run was a huge run and a huge play in the football game. I’ll have to go back and look and see exactly how well he played, but I thought he did a nice job.”
There’s no guarantee if the Raiders running backs will return for Sunday’s game against Kansas City, so Reece might be called upon again to carry the load. He’s been comfortable in that role, exceeding 100 yards total offense in four of five starts at tailback over the past two seasons.
[RELATED: Pryor's cameo has adverse effect on McGloin]
His latest performance was particularly impressive considering it came against the NFL’s top run defense.
“I just want to make plays and help my team win. That’s it,” Reece said. “… It seems like we’re always playing someone ranked No. 1 in something, whether it’s run defense or third down defense or whatever. We seem to step up and conquer that feat, but we don’t finish the game and those stats become irrelevant. We have to finish these games and get some wins.”