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Josh Jacobs has demanded excellence from his team, and they've gotten it from him in return

Aggressive is probably the best synonym I can come up with to describe the way Josh Jacobs played Sunday.

It seemed with every carry Jacobs brought more energy than the last. The running back rushed for a season-high 129 yards, tying his career-high set in 2020, and 27 carries in the win against Denver – gaining nearly five yards per carry.

He went into a zone that he's been known to go into since he was drafted in 2019. And once he reached that peak mindset to force his will on the Broncos defense, there wasn't much they could do to stop him.

"I know when I get into the rhythm because I start making extra little plays," said Jacobs. "Not only that, but everything kind of slows downs for me. I just kind of get in that zone."

While the game slowed down for Jacobs, the opposite can be said for how he came at the Broncos defense – gashing through holes and picking up yards after contact. Hunter Renfrow – who ended the game with 40 receiving yards and a touchdown – was just excited as a spectator in the Allegiant Stadium stands to see Jacobs take over in the second half.

"To block for someone like Josh Jacobs, you got to love it as an offensive lineman because you know he's going to give you his all on every play." Andre James

"He's a great player and that's what great competitors do," Renfrow said about Jacobs. "It's fun as a receiver to see – we just got on his back and let him go to work. Behind him, the offensive line gets a lot of credit. They were moving people and it's fun for receivers because it opens everything else up. And I feel like we're at our best when we can run the ball and Josh did a great job of establishing that."

Much of Jacobs' success can be credited to play of the offensive line that produced one of their best outings of the season. They committed only one penalty the entirety of the game and helped guide the Raiders to a season-high 160 total rushing yards. The play of Jacobs and the O-line seemed to perfectly coincide, as the running back reached the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time since Nov. 15, 2020 – that game in particular also being a home win against the Denver Broncos.

"To block for someone like Josh Jacobs, you got to love it as an offensive lineman because you know he's going to give you his all on every play," center Andre James said after the victory. "It makes it easy as an offensive lineman to the way he hits those holes sometimes. So we wouldn't want to block for someone else. Super proud of him and the way he came out and performed today."

The continuous progression of the Raiders' run game can be attributed to the way Jacobs has evolved as a leader in rallying the troops around him. The running back was named a team captain this season and hasn't taken the opportunity for the granted. His role as a captain has propelled him to be the best he can be for his teammates.

"I think the biggest thing I've learned from being a leader is how to follow," said Jacobs. "How to respect the guys and how to get the attention of the guys in a way that's positive and in a way that motivates. I respect every guy in that locker room and I see what they do on a daily basis, of how they challenge themselves to want to get better. They get the respect out of me. I just try to hold them to the standard that I know that they're capable of.

"Even with myself, they hold me to that standard when I mess up and I make mental errors. ... I think it's just a relationship and a respect level that we have amongst the guys to want to complete the goal that we want to go to."

In order for Jacobs and the Las Vegas Raiders to complete the goal of making it to the playoffs for the first time in five seasons, they now have to get by a nine-win Indianapolis Colts and an eight-win Los Angeles Chargers team that defeated them in Week 4 earlier this season.

View photos from the Raiders' Week 16 matchup against the Denver Broncos at Allegiant Stadium.

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