Instant Replay: Murray runs wild vs Broncos, Raiders take over first place

Instant Replay: Murray runs wild vs Broncos, Raiders take over first place


OAKLAND – Finding flaws in the Raiders’ 6-2 record proved hard to do. They started the season a perfect 5-0 on the road, came from behind to win three times and have a quarterback capable of competing with anyone.

The biggest knock, however, was the Raiders hadn’t beat a big-time team. The rival Denver Broncos are certainly one. The defending Super Bowl champs equaled Oakland’s hot start, setting up a juicy primetime matchup on Sunday night.

This was the biggest game played here in a dozen years and, despite all the hype, the Raiders did not wilt.

The Raiders jumped out to an early lead and never let go, beating the Broncos 30-20 to stand alone atop the AFC West. They head into a bye week 7-2, with as many wins as anyone in the NFL through nine games. Now, without doubt, it can be said the Raiders are a legitimate contender in the AFC.

While the Raiders typically win in dramatic fashion, they were closers this time. They milked the clock, kept the chains moving and never made the big mistake.

Derek Carr is this team’s centerpiece, but the night was won the old fashioned way, with rushing and defense.

The Raiders ran rampant, including strong runs to maintain a second half lead. Latavius Murray paced that effort with 20 carries for 114 yards and three touchdowns.

That kept quarterback Derek Carr out of trouble against the NFL’s best pass defense.

But, with the Broncos inching closer in the fourth quarter, Khalil Mack a huge play. The star Raiders edge rusher sacked and stripped quarterback Trevor Siemian and recovered his own forced fumble to put the Raiders in position to score Murray’s third touchdown of the night.

Reggie Nelson’s interception closed it out with less than two minutes left and the Broncos without a timeout.

It completed a strong showing on a national stage, proving the Raiders are a force to be reckoned with in the AFC.

The second half started slow. A scoreless third quarter and Brandon McManus’ 44-yard field goal to start the fourth trimmed the Raiders lead to 20-13 and set up another tight finish.

The Raiders held their lead well. They worked a field goal out of a 10-play, 58-yard drive that took over six minutes off the clock. That re-established a two score cushion with roughly eight minutes left.

The Raiders started well in all three phases, and jumped out to a 20-10 halftime lead. They started the game with 13 unanswered points thanks to four straight 3-and-outs forced by the Raiders defense.

The Broncos responded with an efficient touchdown drive that ended with a 36-yard pass to Jordan Norwood. That, plus a missed field goal from Sebastian Janikowski, cut the Raiders lead to 13-7.

They expanded it late in the second quarter with a six-play, 75-yard drive helped along by a 42-yard Latavius Murray run and two Denver pass interference penalties in the end zone. Murray closed that drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 1 minute, 25 seconds left.

Denver cut their deficit to 10 as the first half ended, with a 55-yard field goal from Brandon McManus.

The second half was a tight affair, but the Raiders were able to hold off the Broncos for the victory.

Raiders run wild: The Raiders have run the ball well this year, and continued that trend against a Denver run defense ranked No. 24 in the NFL entering Sunday’s action.

Latavius Murray, DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard were efficient and explosive, with a number of big runs to pace the offense. Murray had a 42-yard scamper that led to his own 1-yard touchdown a few plays later.

Richard found creases up front and Washington created wiggle room as well.

The Raiders finished with 218 yards on 43 carries in this one, the highest total allowed by Denver this year.

Hot defensive start: The Raiders defense kept Denver down early on, with four straight 3-and-outs to start the game. The Silver and Black put pressure on Trevor Siemian, forced some lackluster throws and defensed a few others in the secondary.

The defense helped provide good field position that helped generate a 13-0 lead to start the game.

Sitting it out: Sean Smith hoped to play Denver a week after injuring his shoulder, but Raiders coaches decided against it. The veteran cornerback was ruled inactive, which will give him two additional weeks to get right, with the bye coming next week.

Menelik Watson was active for the first time since Week 3, and played some at right tackle. Austin Howard made the start there.

In addition to Smith, quarterback Connor Cook, cornerback Dexter McDonald, offensive linemen Matt McCants and Vadal Alexander, tight end Ryan O’Malley and defensive tackle Stacy McGee were ruled inactive. McGee was ruled out earlier in the week.

What’s next: The Raiders have their bye week coming up, with a chance to relax and get healthy before a Monday night showdown with Houston in Mexico City.

New Raiders cornerback supremely confident, 'here to dominate the league'


New Raiders cornerback supremely confident, 'here to dominate the league'

Rashaan Melvin has the supreme confidence of a No. 1 cornerback, with none of the pedigree. Top cover men are often drafted high, paid well or both, with a steady ascent to elite status.

This undrafted talent bounced around the league without job security, trying and often failing to find NFL footing.

Melvin spent time with Tampa Bay, Miami, Baltimore, New England and Miami again before establishing himself in Indianapolis. The Colts gave him a real shot and he took advantage, evolving into the team’s top cornerback. Last year was Melvin’s best, but it didn’t provide a long-term contract despite a bull market for cover men.

Melvin signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Raiders on Friday, the type of prove-it deal that could establish a big payday down this time next year. The 28-year old doesn’t consider that pressure. Melvin knowns another big year's on the way, one that proves he's an elite cornerback

"I’m here to dominate the league," Melvin said Friday in a conference call. "It might be time for some new faces at the cornerback position. That’s my take on that. I’m excited for it.”

Melvin wouldn’t trade his long road for a conventional path, and believes experience both good and bad has prepared him for a pivotal season.

“I’ve been cut four times,” Melvin said. “I’ve been in four different locker rooms, and I was able to gain my teammates’ trust, my coaches’ trust and the organization’s trust as well. My confidence just grows over time. There are not a lot of players that can say they’ve been cut four times and end up in a situation where I’m at today. Like I said, it’s perfect timing. My work ethic, my style of play and the way I approach the game and the way I approach my job, my business, it speaks for itself.”

Melvin’s work ethic is unquestioned. His reputation as a grinder is well documented, especially after establishing himself in Indianapolis. Commitment to a craft has created a player with consistent coverage and ball skills.

Melvin was excellent last year. According to Pro Football Focus, Melvin created an incomplete pass (combining passes defensed and interceptions) on 23.6 percent of his targets.

Passers had a 60.3 passer rating against him in 2017, with just 29 completions for 328 yards on 55 targets. The passer rating was 86.6 in 2016, his only other season as a regular starter.

The Raiders need that type of player on the outside. They’ve had inconsistent cornerback play (that’s being kind) in recent seasons, and are hoping Melvin provides stability at a key position. The Northern Illinois alum has loftier aspirations, individually and as the leader of a young position group.

“The goal is to be the best player I can be, first-team All-Pro,” Melvin said. “I’m going to show my leadership, help these young guys out this year. They have tons of potential to be successful in their own careers. For me coming in here and being the leader and showing that, hey, this is what it takes to be successful in this football league, that’s what I’m willing to do. That’s what I’m willing to bring to the table. On the football field, but outside as well.”

Paying $6.5 million for all that would be a bargain. Melvin’s the key acquisition in a secondary built around 2016 first-round safety Karl Joseph and 2017 first-round cornerback Gareon Conley. This secondary can be solid if those guys can realize potential and Melvin’s a true No. 1 cornerback.

He considers that title appropriate, and is ready to show he’s more that a one-year wonder. The Raiders have great confidence in Melvin, something clear after targeting him early in the free-agent process. Financing’s always a big factor, but Friday’s meeting with head coach Jon Gruden, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and secondary coach Derrick Ansley convinced Melvin that Oakland’s a proper fit.

“I can relate to these guys,” Melvin said. “They have big plans for me, big plans for the organization. I was born to be a part of something special; that’s happening in Oakland. It was a good thing. We were able to get everything done, a deal done. I’m just excited to be here and I’m excited to see what the future holds for us as a team and me as a player.”

Raiders sign former 49ers defensive lineman


Raiders sign former 49ers defensive lineman

Update (3/17, 11:15 a.m.): The Raiders have officially signed former 49ers lineman Tank Carradine.


Raiders head coach Jon Gruden wanted veterans to help turn his defense around. He added a linebacker and defensive backs aplenty. Then, on Friday night, he gave the front some help.

Former 49ers defensive lineman Tank Carradine will sign with the Raiders, the 28-year old announced on his Instagram page. 

The Sacramento Bee first reported the news. 

He visited the Raiders on Thursday and was in Seattle earlier Friday, but will sign with the Silver and Black.

Carradine could help their transition to a more traditional 4-3 alignment, able to play end in the base defense. He has proven himself as a solid run defender, but believes he can be an effective pass rusher if given the opportunity.

Carradine didn’t get many pass-rushing chances with the 49ers, who generally removed him on passing downs. He has 5.5 sacks in four professional seasons. He played 37.9 percent of 49ers defensive snaps during eight games with the 49ers last season. He missed the same amount on short-term injured reserve with an ankle injury.

At 6-foot-4, 270 pounds, he has the size to be a 4-3 base end. He’ll likely have to battle Mario Edwards Jr. for snaps opposite Khalil Mack, though Bruce Irvin will take that spot in sub packages.

Carradine will be the 10th free-agent signing expected to make the roster, which means the roster turnover this summer should be significant. 

Here was his Instagram post from Friday night: 

Proud to become an Oakland Raider! Let's go #raiders#nation

A post shared by Tank Carradine (@tank.carradine) on