Running Back Latavius Murray
After beating the Denver Broncos 30-20 on Sunday Night Football, he Oakland Raiders have climbed their way to the top of the AFC West with a 7-2 record. The Silver and Black established an impressive running game against a stout Broncos defense that has limited opposing teams to 117.4 rushing yards per game this season, but allowed 218 yards on the ground to the Silver and Black On the season the Raiders have rushed for 127.8 yards per game, good for the fourth-best in the league this season.
Of the Raiders trio of running backs, Sunday night belonged to Latavius Murray who nearly eclipsed the Broncos rushing yards allowed on his own by going off for 114 yards and three touchdowns. Murray is currently the Raiders leading rusher this season with a total of 393 yards, and is tied for third in rushing touchdowns this season with a total of eight. The fourth-year running back tied the Raiders franchise record for rushing touchdowns in a game, also setting a career-high for the University of Central Florida-product.
"He did a nice job. He got the hat trick, scoring three touchdowns," said Head Coach Jack Del Rio. "I thought he ran hard. I thought the line gave the backs room to run. I thought the backs ran hard."
The running backs altogether gave a solid performance against the Broncos, but Del Rio also made sure to acknowledge the outstanding play of the offensive line. The Raiders offensive line has been arguably the best o-line in the league this season, and has limited opposing teams to 11 sacks and 20 quarterback hits, both league-bests. Their ability to prevent a strong Broncos defense from clogging the running lanes enabled the ground game to get the ball rolling and be productive as a unit.
"Our guys really attacked it well," said Del Rio. "Went after them and ran the ball and ran it affectively enough to be able to stay with them."
Murray's contribution to the team has played a significant role in the success of the ground-game nine games into the regular season. In the two games the Murray missed this season (Week 5 and Week 6) the Raiders failed to surpass 100 yards rushing in both outings. Murray's 6'3" frame and physical strength add a different dimension to the team's offense, compared to running backs Jalen Richard and DeAndré Washington who offer more of a scat back physique with solid receiving capabilities, thus making him an important weapon in the Raiders system.
"Anytime you get in the end zone, I'm not going to complain whatsoever," said Murray. "Again that's why I give credit to the guys up front because them making the push and I'm just trying to finish off what they started."
Del Rio says that the passing game and run complement each other and when they're firing on all cylinders good things tend to happen. In the Week 8 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, quarterback Derek Carr threw for a franchise record 513 yards, compared to his 179 passing yards against Denver, but regardless of how much he throws the football, No. 4 only cares about doing whatever it takes to help the team win.
"I don't get caught up in numbers. I don't get caught up in stats," said Carr. "I don't care if we run it 58 times or if I throw the ball eight times. When you get called upon, you have to hit your shots. But, when you run the ball like that, it's just fun to watch."