Programming note: Tony Sparano is scheduled to address the media at 2 p.m. this evening. Watch the live stream right here.
OAKLAND – Our weekly look into Raiders positives has typically been a chore. We’ve had to get creative in this segment, highlighting things like attitude and British pub food to fill the space following dismal performances during an 0-10 start to the season.
Not so this week. There were positives aplenty in Thursday night’s 24-20 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Raiders’ first win of the season. Let’s discuss the top three:
1. Offense, defense come through in the clutch: The Raiders had a big lead and coughed it up. If the Raiders weren’t as driven to win as they were, they would’ve broken and the game would’ve ended 20-17.
These guys fought back with a 17-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to James Jones. The Raiders took a 24-20 lead, but the Chiefs had 1 minute, 42 seconds to work with.
The defense had to make a stand. While some excessive sack celebration nearly got in the way, Justin Tuck’s timely timeout kept the defense in line and helped secure the win.
The result was important. The journey was, too. It showed the Raiders they could win one of these close games after losing so many.
“Today the offense took the football down the field at the end of the game and did it the good, old-fashioned Raider way,” interim head coach Tony Sparano said. “They ran it and ran it. They were efficient. And we made a big play on the touchdown. Then we went back out there on defense and those kids were relentless. It was a heck of a thing to watch.”
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2. New backs get run game going: There have been segments of the Raiders community inquiring about increased carries for Latavius Murray (the fans) and Marcel Reece (the media). Boy, do we look smart for once. Murray ran four times for 112 yards and Reece exceeded his season carry total in the fourth quarter alone, and had 37 yards on eight carries and an eight-yard reception. Reece accounted for 46 yards on the game-winning drive.
Neither player spoke afterward – Murray was concussed, Reece declined – but their teammates complimented their effort. Those two little-used players provided a spark, and should be the primary tailbacks in the future.
3. Dominant defense: The Raiders have played solid against two strong offenses in San Diego and Kansas City. Lost in the late-game drama was a strong first-half that held the Chiefs to a lone field goal despite a turnover deep in Raiders territory. The Chiefs were just 2-of-14 on third down, an amazing turn considering how good they were at season’s start. The Raiders allowed one touchdown in three red-zone trips. They didn’t force a turnover but impacted the quarterback with two sacks, four hits and 14 other pressures.