Kelechi Osemele stood at his locker Monday night, the happiness and satisfaction on his face apparent, and it wasn’t just the Christmas spirit that had the big man feeling jolly.
Not only had his Oakland Raiders handled the Denver Broncos 27-14 on a national stage at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Monday night’s primetime win was the All-Pro guard’s first game action since a Week 13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
And for Osemele – a player who hadn’t missed a game since late-2016 – having to sit and watch from the sidelines as of late wasn’t necessarily his idea of a good time.
“That felt great,” said Osemele postgame. “Man, I can’t even explain it. Like in my chest, I just felt really good. I felt like I needed to get back out there.”
“It was just frustrating man, not being able to be out there,” he added. “So going out there, that just felt so good, and you know how it is, getting to get some aggression out when you’re going through something, and being out there with your teammates again, it was much needed.”
The Raiders offensive line – particularly without the services of Gabe Jackson on the inside – certainly needed all the help they could get squaring off against a Broncos defensive line that featured the likes of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, but it was the men in Silver and Black who wore down the vaunted Broncos line, not the other way around.
The tandem of Miller and Chub – one of the most-dynamic, one-two punches in the NFL – finished the game with a combined four tackles (all Chubb’s) and the Broncos defensive front as a whole took down Derek Carr just once behind the line of scrimmage.
“It was just a great mentality that we came into the game with, and how we prepared the entire week, just getting ready to have good double teams and be physical, and take it to them, and wear them down slowly, and I felt like that’s what we did,” Osemele explained. “I was really happy with our combos, and honestly, with how many times runs were being called in general. I was really happy about that. That was the type of game I felt like we really specialize at as an offensive line. It’s always good to be able to do that, to feel like you’re doing that for your team. It’s a great feeling, man. It’s a really good feeling.”
Not only did Osemele and the rest of the Raiders offensive line do the heavy lifting in terms of keeping Carr upright, but the run game got rolling as well, to the tune of 114 yards.
On a night where the conditions were far from ideal for putting up big points, Head Coach Jon Gruden handed the ball off to his running backs a combined 26 times, and while that type of workload not only allowed the Raiders to control the line of scrimmage, it also gave the team’s offensive line a chance to find a rhythm in the trenches.
“It felt good,” Osemele said. “I was a little worried about being off a little bit, and that how I would kind of gel with Kolton, but we had several good practices [throughout] the week. [Offensive line coach] [Tom] Cable did a good job of making sure we were ready to go, and it felt great. That’s how it’s supposed to feel. I can’t wait to see it on film, because it felt really good.”
Of those 114 rushing yards, 100 belonged to Doug Martin, and since taking over the bulk of the running back reps since Week 8, the veteran running back has run the ball extremely hard and kept up the standard set by Marshawn Lynch earlier in 2018.
“He just finishes so hard,” Osmele said of Martin. “He tries to run through people. He’s got good vision, and you can never really count him down, you can never really count him tackled. He’s just a great effort running back, and he’s got speed. He can hurt you with speed, and he’s physical too.”
The Raiders secured their fourth win of 2018 Monday night, and the play of the team’s offensive line – a group that has been through a lot this season – is a big reason why.
Osemele and Co., will get one final chance to get to work when the Raiders wrap up 2018 against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.