The secret to the Oakland Raiders’ success during Sunday night’s 30-20 whipping of the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos was hardly earth-shattering. They took two plays and ran them to perfection, over and over again in the second half.
“In the second half, we only ran two (running) plays,” Raiders left tackle Donald Penn told NFL.com’s Michael Silver. “We ran the same running play 10 times in a row. We kept wearing them down with double teams. They knew it was coming. It didn’t matter. That’s when you take somebody’s will.”
Oakland finished the game with 218 rushing yards against a team that rode a stingy defense to the NFL title last season. Many of those yards came after the Raiders’ offensive coaches installed the play in question, the one Denver couldn’t stop.
“It’s a play our defense calls ‘Crunch,’ an off-tackle run that Pittsburgh brought into the league way back when, and a whole lot of us have since stolen,” Raiders offensive line coach Mike Tice told Silver. “It’s basically a double-team — center and guard, or guard and tackle, or tackle and tight end — on one of their guys, depending upon what front they show. They tried to bring a couple of guys down low to pull us off the double team, which didn’t surprise me, cause it was something [Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips] did to me when he was the head coach of Buffalo a long time ago.
“It didn’t matter. We kept executing that play. We could have announced it. They knew it was coming.”
The Raiders’ offensive line not only opened up holes for the team’s running backs, but it also kept quarterback Derek Carr on his feet. He was sacked just twice on Sunday night but only took one other officially noted hit (he’s only been hit 18 times this season, a league low). Put it all together, and you have an explanation for Oakland’s 7-2 start to the season.
Now if the Raiders’ defense could actually stop anybody. Oakland is allowing a league-worst 6.4 yards per play (Denver averaged 5.9).