OAKLAND, California – Instead of basking in the team’s biggest win in more than a decade, the Oakland Raiders know that beating the defending Super Bowl champions on a prime-time stage won’t mean much if it isn’t followed up by more significant victories down the stretch.
The formula the Raiders used to knock off the Denver Broncos 30-20 on Sunday night to take over sole possession of first place in the AFC West could help lead to the sort of success Oakland has lacked for years.
“We know we can’t look at this game as something that’s going to define us or define the season,” running back Latavius Murray said. “We have to continue to go out there and work hard and we’re going to have to earn every game we play.”
They did just that against Denver. Murray ran for 114 yards and three touchdowns to pace a rushing attack that gained 218 yards against one of the NFL’s stingiest defenses.
“It shows us that we should be able to run the ball against anybody,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “They are the best. They are.”
Oakland’s previously porous defense befuddled rookie Trevor Siemian and bottled up Denver’s run game. And it was the Raiders who were more poised than the Broncos, who committed 12 penalties — many that helped extend Oakland drives.
“It’s not like we won the championship or they won the championship today,” Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “There’s still a lot of football left to play, and we’ve just got to get back to business.”
But by dominating the trenches and controlling the clock for 41:28, the Raiders were able to expose a weakness in Denver’s otherwise stellar defense.
“That’s something that we have to fix,” Harris said. “It’s been leaky pretty much all season. So we have to figure that out and really put an emphasis on that, and get back to doing what we do.”
Here are some other takeaways from the game:
DEFENSIVE TURNAROUND: After being unable to stop almost anyone to start the season, the Raiders defense has picked it up of late. Oakland held Tampa Bay under 300 yards of offense in an overtime win last week and limited Denver to just 299 on Sunday. Oakland set the tone by forcing Denver into three-and-outs on the first four possessions.
“We don’t want to depend on the offense,” safety Reggie Nelson said. “They’ve been carrying us for a while. It was big for our defense. It was nice to get out there and win.”
GROUNDED: The Broncos once again struggled to run the ball with leading rusher C.J. Anderson sidelined by a knee injury . Rookie running back Devontae Booker was held to 22 yards on 10 carries, and Denver ran for just 33 yards on 12 attempts against what had been one of the league’s worst run defenses the first half of the season. It was the least productive game for the Broncos on the ground since they were held to 28 yards on 10 carries in a loss to St. Louis on Nov. 16, 2014. Booker has run for just 76 yards on 29 carries in two games since Anderson went on IR.
“We’ve got to find a way to run the football somehow, some way, to help our football team,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “Obviously the last two weeks it’s been pretty much non-existent.”
STAND UP: Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall ended his season-long protest of the national anthem. Marshall began kneeling for the anthem for the season opener and did it the first eight games, following the lead of his former college teammate, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. But Marshall decided before this game it was time to stand up again.
“I helped bring awareness to what Kaepernick had started and it was time for me, not to move on but to stand up. I’m still doing things,” Marshall said.
UP NEXT: The Broncos head to New Orleans next week to play the Saints, while the Raiders get the week off before traveling to Mexico City to take on Houston.