In Marshawn Lynch's Stead, Young Running Backs Answer The Call

The AFC West was indeed wild Thursday night.

Okay, wild might be a bit of an understatement; the AFC West – half of it anyways – was completely bananas as the Oakland Raiders and the Kanas City Chiefs kicked off Week 7 of the NFL regular season in style, as the Silver and Black eventually felled Andy Reid and Co., 31-30.

Forget the final series of the evening, an emotional roller coaster consisting of 15 plays, 85 yards, and not one, not two, but three instances where the Raiders thought they won the game; the entire Thursday night game was filled with twists and turns at every conceivable moment.

One of the biggest twists of the afternoon came in the second quarter when running back Marshawn Lynch ran onto the field following a tackle of Derek Carr, and then after making contact with a referee was subsequently disqualified from the primetime clash.

With their team down by three, and with a majority of the game still ahead of them, DeAndre Washington looked at Jalen Richard, and said four simple words.

"As soon as the referee made the announcement, I immediately went to Jalen, and was like, it's on us now," explained Washington postgame. "We had to step up. I think we did a solid job…. I think overall we did a good job of filling that void when 24 [Lynch] was unable to go."

And solid might be the perfect work to describe the duo's extended run in Thursday night's absurd win. While their 18 combined carries for 64 yards, and one touchdown, might not light the world on fire, Richard and Washington also combined for 52 receiving yards, and were instrumental in helping keep a handful of the team's drives alive throughout the evening.

"Those are guys I love," Vadal Alexander said of the young backs. "Those are guys who came in with me, my [draft] class, and they have a lot of experience, obviously, so they didn't flinch at all because they knew what they can do, and they have plenty of experience carrying the load of a rushing game as running backs. It was a pretty smooth transition."

While their on-field production was obviously critical in the Raiders snapping their four-game losing streak, Richard also filled a vital role off the field, that of the motivator.

"I told Crab [Derek Carr]. I told Crab; we're going to win," Richard explained. "It was at the six-minute mark, when we had the ball, and we had the quick, three and out, and still I was walking up and down the sideline, telling everybody, man, we're going to win this game. This is stuff that we did all last year. If you looked back at our tape last year, we did this."

Richard's proclamation indeed proved prophetic, as the Raiders escaped the OACC with a much-needed win in a game that will likely go down as one of the crazier games in franchise history.

"It was crazy," Washington said. "That's the NFL though, man, the game is never really over. There's always a lot of excitement, especially when we play those guys. Guys stepped up at the end. I just felt like we were due. We were due for a big win, and I'm glad we were able to get that tonight."

With the win, the Raiders now improve to 3-4 on the year, and throw themselves squarely back in the mix of now-congested AFC West, and while the Amari Cooper's and Michael Crabtree's of the world will deservedly get a lot of credit for the win, both Richard and Washington answered the call, and performed well in a game that the Raiders honestly had to have.

"They're some good players," added Rodney Hudson. "Some good, young players. They work hard, and they keep fighting. It ain't always perfect blocking-wise, the holes and everything, but they keep running hard. They ran hard."

The Silver and Black will now enjoy a mini-bye of sorts before returning to work Tuesday, and then flying out Friday afternoon for their Week 8 matchup against the Buffalo Bills.

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