The Oakland Raiders had their most impressive win of the season Sunday, as they hosted the Denver Broncos in a primetime game and came away with a 30-20 victory, taking over sole possession of first place in the AFC West.
While a lot has been talked about the Raiders offense and passing game this season, Sunday’s win came via great defense and running the football, which was a big change for Oakland.
Running back Latavius Murray ran the ball 20 times for 114 yards and three touchdowns and the Raiders ran for 218 total yards, while the defense came away with two big turnovers, as well as two sacks from All-Pro defensive end Khalil Mack.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in the win was the play of the Raiders secondary, as they were without their top cornerback Sean Smith. According to Kyle Martin of Raiders.com, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio was impressed with how well D.J. Hayden and T.J. Carrie played in the place of Smith:
“They battled tough. I thought they did a really nice job for the most part. Couple things we can clean up, technique-wise but the effort was great and the intensity was great. I thought DJ was really solid. TJ did a heck of a job filling in in a tough situation, you know? People talked a lot about Aqib [Talib] being out but heck, we had Sean Smith out. He’s one of our good players. I think for our backups to step in and play well like they did, that was big for us.”
The start was Carrie’s first of the season, although he started 14 games for the Raiders last season and four games in 2014.
Smith missed his first game of the season Sunday with a shoulder injury that he suffered in Week 8 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The injury isn’t a serious one, but if he is forced to miss more time then it must be a nice feeling for Del Rio to know he still has Hayden and Carrie, two guys that have been successful starting corners in the NFL.