Through nearly three quarters of play Sunday, the Raiders had a grand total of 23 yards on the ground on 12 designed runs against the Chargers. Then with 1:21 left in the third quarter, they handed it to Latavius Murray and all that changed.
In one carry, Murray broke off 14 yards which was just short of what Darren McFadden had (16) at the time on 7 carries. On the next play, they handed it to Murray again and he broke off 23 yards. That 23 yards run matched the ENTIRE output of the rest of the Raiders up to that point. It was also the longest run by any Raiders running back all season.
The next time Murray touched the ball, he went for five yards which matched the longest run by any other Raiders running back. So, of course they gave him the ball just one more time the rest of the game.
He finished with 43 yards on four carries (10.8 yards per carry) which was 15 yards more than the rest of the team combined. Darren McFadden had 21 yards on 8 carries (2.6 ypc) and Maurice Jones-Drew had 6 yards on 4 carries (1.5 ypc).
A few carries like that should earn him a more looks this season after being nearly ignored the first half of this season and only seeing a few looks in recent weeks.
"We're trying to get him more involved," said Tony Sparano following the game. "Obviously he was involved more in this ball game than we've seen him in the last couple ball games."
Things have reached critical mass for the Raiders and their running game is on a path of historic ineptitude. Yet through it all, Murray has spent much of the time watching from the sideline as McFadden and MJD get stuffed at the line time and time again.
"It's tough," said Murray. "I think it's tough for everybody. Everybody wants to play. I know I want to play, get in there, so I just gotta be patient and when my number is called just make sure I know what I'm doing and make sure I go out there and execute."
"They've just been wanting to try to get me in the mix a little more and that's all I can ask, and when they do, just make sure I give them more reason to want to put me back in there."
Breaking off 37 yards on your first two touches of the game is certainly something that will leave an impression on coaches.
"I thought he ran the ball well," said Tony Sparano. "I'd have to watch the film and see how we did there, but in his opportunities he ran the ball well. There was some things there that maybe weren't quite there early in the football game for Darren. Darren came in afterwards, I thought he had a couple good runs in there that were tough hard runs, but Latavius, he's a big back, strong kid."
Much of the blame has fallen on the Raiders offensive line for their struggles running the ball. But with any situation like this, it can't all fall squarely on their shoulders. Even the worst lines can open up holes on occasion. It just takes the right back to take advantage of those occasions, even as few as they may be.
"I just saw the hole and hit it. I didn't want to be back there dancing or anything. I try to be a downhill runner with my size so I just made sure I hit the hole hard. . . It felt good to get in there and run the ball. Always does. I was pleased, definitely."
We won't have to wait long to see how much Murray becomes a part of the offense. The Raiders are back at it against the Chiefs Thursday.