ALAMEDA (AP) — When the Oakland Raiders played the Denver Broncos the first time this season, they relied heavily on the run.
They posted their most carries, most yards and most touchdowns on the ground in the past three years.
The formula that delivered the 30-20 victory in November will probably be a similar formula that Oakland uses in the rematch in Denver this week, especially with backup Matt McGloin taking the snaps from center in place of injured starting quarterback Derek Carr.
“I think everyone is taking a little bit more on their shoulders because they understand Derek went down,” running back DeAndre Washington said.
“He was a vital leader to this team, an MVP to this team. Whenever someone like that goes down everyone else has to step up.”
The running game has played a big role in Oakland’s success this season, especially in recent weeks when Carr was not quite as effective throwing the ball with an injured pinkie.
Now with Carr out indefinitely with a broken leg, it will be even more crucial so Oakland can relieve pressure on McGloin, who has thrown just 55 passes the past three seasons.
Led by Latavius Murray, Washington and Jalen Richard, the Raiders rank fifth in the league in rushing at 124.3 yards per game and have been even more potent of late with 157.3 yards per game over the past four games.
“We know we need to run the football for this offense to move the ball, to move the chains,” Murray said.
“We’re going to continue to do that. Obviously, we feel in the running back room that if we could be the spark for this offense, the sky’s the limit when you’ve got guys loading the box and then we can throw it on the outside.
“We want the ball in our hands and we want to take responsibility now more than ever obviously. So we’re up for the challenge.”
The Raiders’ best game on the ground came in the first meeting with the Broncos when they ran for 218 yards and three touchdowns on 43 carries.
Oakland frequently employed six-linemen packages and ran similar plays over and over again once they realized Denver could not handle its formidable line led by three Pro Bowl starters.
The Broncos expect more of the same this week when the Raiders (12-3) can clinch the AFC West title and a first-round bye with a victory in Denver.
“That definitely should (anger) the D-line and linebackers and everybody up front to be able to know that they could pound us,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “That should definitely make those guys up front mad and be able to shut it down.”
The Raiders got a big boost last week with the play of Washington, who had just one carry and was inactive twice in the four games after the first game against Denver.
With the Raiders needing more help on special teams with safety Karl Joseph hurt, the rookie fifth-round pick didn’t make the 46-man game-day roster for two games.
But he got his chance last Saturday in the win over Indianapolis and rushed for 99 yards on 12 carries and had a pair of 22-yard touchdown runs. That gave the Raiders another potent running option alongside fellow rookie Richard and starter Murray.
“I’ve been liking DeAndre since camp,” left tackle Donald Penn said. “I like both of those young running backs. We have a three-headed monster back there. When we deactivated him earlier in the year, it gave him a chance to sit back, take care of his body and really focus in on the offense.”
NOTES: Penn was given the Craig Long Award for his professionalism in dealing with the media. ... S Karl Joseph, who has missed the past three games with a toe injury, was back at practice.
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