By playing ball-control, smashmouth offensive football and relying on an opportunistic defense — both made necessary by how many key players were sidelined.
“We’re very resilient,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “Very tough, very competitive. I mean, don’t get it twisted, we’re humans, we know everyone counted us out. We knew no one would pick us to win this football game. We hadn’t really proven anything for them to pick us. It just shows you the grit and determination of our young guys.”
Enter rookie running back Josh Jacobs and the Raiders’ reimagined offensive line.
All Jacobs did was carry the ball 26 times for a career-best 123 yards with two touchdowns, including the game-winning leap over the pile from two yards out with 1:57 to play. He also caught three passes for 20 yards.
And did we mention that Jacobs was drafted with a first-round pick (No. 24 overall) acquired from the Bears in the Khalil Mack trade? And that Mack, who recovered a fumble on a botched pitch from Carr to Jacobs and had three tackles, was shut out on sacks by tackles Trent Brown and Kolton Miller?
According to reporters in London, Mack declined to talk after the game, while Jacobs was signing autographs for British media members.
“I know they’re a good run defense; no one talks about our guys up front,” Gruden said. “We’re pretty good. We got some good tight ends who can really block, we got a good fullback, a great young back, and the interior of our line is quality stuff. Trent Brown and Kolton Miller, they should get game balls. I think I’ll make that decision here in front of you guys.”
Jacobs’ game-winning plunge capped a 97-yard drive, the longest go-ahead TD drive in the fourth quarter by the Raiders since at least 1999, per Associated Press.
The Raiders jumped out to a 17-0 lead and, really, left 10 points on the board. Left guard Richie Incognito‘s first-quarter, unnecessary roughness penalty knocked Oakland out of field-goal range and Davis lost the ball at the Bears’ 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter.
Plus, the Raiders gift-wrapped the Bears’ first TD on that botched snap.
In all, Oakland’s offense had 398 total yards against the vaunted Bears defense, with 169 coming on the ground. The Raiders won the time of possession battle, 34:43 to 25:17, using that ball-control offense.
“We are a better football team this year than we were last year (when) we were building,” Carr said. “Coach Gruden was laying a foundation. Like I’ve told you, man, this is my third time restarting in the franchise. It’s not fun, man. I just want to win.
“The cool thing about it now is that I could see it last year — Man, we’re going to be awesome. I know it. I know we’re going to be able to play in big games and beat people. No one else saw it. No one else believed in it. Except the people in our building, and that’s all that matters. I think it has carried over since last year and will continue to grow.”