Running Back Latavius Murray
Heading into the Oakland Raiders Sunday Night football matchup against the Denver Broncos, there were a few key matchups that we were keeping an eye on as the two teams battled it out for sole possession of first place in the AFC West.
Well, the Silver and Black put on a show under the bright lights of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, handily beating the Broncos 30-20 in the marquee game of the day.
With the win, Head Coach Jack Del Rio's team now boasts a 7-2 record heading into a much-deserved bye week, so as the Raiders sit alone atop the division, let's take a look back at those matchups and see how they played out.
Cornerback David Amerson vs. Wide Receiver Demaryius Thomas
With cornerback Sean Smith's status for the Sunday night matchup against the Broncos in question because of a shoulder injury, much of the focus in the secondary shifted to David Amerson and how he would deal with the Broncos tandem of wide receivers, Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas.
The 6'3" Thomas, in particular, looked to provide a challenge to the Raiders secondary, especially without Smith who was ruled inactive 90 minutes before kickoff, but Amerson, DJ Hayden, and TJ Carrie did a strong job for the most part in limiting the athletic wide receiver's production.
Trevor Siemian did end up throwing for 283 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but throughout the course of the Week 9 bout, Thomas was kept out of the end zone, finishing his day with just five catches for 56 yards.
Thomas certainly provided a matchup issue for the Silver and Black without No.21 in the lineup, but Amerson and the rest of the Raiders secondary stepped up, embraced the challenge, and did a good job of making life difficult for the physical wideout.
Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave vs. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
In the battle of Raiders offense versus Broncos defense, the Silver and Black came out on top in a big way Sunday night at the OACC.
Musgrave was masterful in his approach to dissecting the vaunted Broncos defense, and from the first whistle it was evident that the Raiders wanted to attack the Broncos on the ground.
The Raiders offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage throughout the evening, and Musgrave didn't deviate from what was working, as the team's trio of running backs ran the football 38 times for an impressive 217 yards and three touchdowns.
Statistically, Derek Carr didn't enjoy the most impressive game of his young career – he threw for just 184 yards – but the Raiders signal-caller was judicious in his approach throwing the football, and most importantly, he didn't turn the ball over to the Denver defense.
"I don't get caught up in numbers," said Carr. "I don't get caught up in stats. I care about winning. The way that those guys run plays against one of the best defenses this league has seen in the last however many years they've been together. It was a fun thing to watch. I'm the biggest fan of that. A game like that, 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."
Give credit where credit is due; Musgrave executed the team's offensive plan superbly, and from the first play to the last, the Broncos defense look outmatched and completely off balance.
Tackle Austin Howard vs. Outside Linebacker Von Miller
Since entering the NFL after an impressive career at Texas A&M, Miller has been a one-man wrecking crew on the defensive side of the football, tallying 69.5 sacks, in just over five-and-a-half seasons.
The All-Pro outside linebacker is one of the best defensive players that the league has seen in the past several decades, but outside of one early sack of Derek Carr, Miller was largely held in check Sunday night.
Yes, No. 58 did make his presence felt early in the game, bringing down Carr behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of five, but outside of that, the Raiders offensive line – Austin Howard in particular – did an outstanding job of limiting the Super Bowl 50 MVP.
Not only were Howard and the big men up front able to give Carr ample time to operate for most of the evening, but they were able to limit Miller's effectiveness against the run as well, as the Silver and Black racked up a season-high 218 yards on the ground in the Week 9 primetime win.
Miller is an incredible football player, that's never been up for debate, but Sunday night the Silver and Black got the best of him.