The key to this game for the Raiders was always going to be Josh Jacobs. We discussed it this week. His ability to run between the tackles was going to make or break the Raiders’ chances in this game. Not only did Jacobs make the Raiders, but it broke the Bears defensive line.
Everyone who follows football knows the Bears have a supreme defensive line. That goes especially against the run. Regardless of how much you knew the Raiders hopes hinged on their ability to get Jacobs going, no one could have predicted how it went down.
From the first time he touched the ball to the last, he was picking up yards in chunks. By halftime, he had 57 yards on the ground which was already more than any other running back had against the Bears all season. The previous best was Royce Freeman who had 54 yards against them. The Raiders as a team had 99 yards rushing which was also the most allowed by the Bears all season. The previous best was 90 yards to Freeman and the Broncos.
“We got tired of hearing how good their defense was,” said Josh Jacobs. “I mean, they deserve that, that praise, because of how good they are, but we’re good too. And we just wanted to let the world know that we are.”
This wasn’t just a good game for the Raiders on the ground. It was definitely that, but this offensive line had a plan and a purpose to impose their will on the Bears vaunted defensive line and make that their foundation for everything they did. And the plan was executed to perfection.
“That was our mission going in. Run the ball on them, keep them fro getting [into] pass rush mode,” said Richie Incognito. “They got Khalil Mack, they got some dynamic playmakers over there, but we came out and punched them in the mouth and they didn’t like it. They were talking a bunch of trash that first drive, we came out, punched them in the mouth, put it in the end zone and then all that talking stopped.”
Incognito is a prideful guy. Even more so than most of the guys on that line. And all they heard all week was how great the Bears defensive line was.
“I think we’ve been building off the run game every week and I think we really took this challenge personally,” said left tackle Kolton Miller. “That Chicago has the best defense in the league and watching film no one’s been able to run the rock on them, but we stepped up to that challenge and we took it to them.”
Miller at left tackle and Trent Brown on the other side knew facing Khalil Mack was going to be a big challenge. They needed all the help they could get against him.
“The passing game, everyone was doing their job, from the receivers, getting help on the chip blocks, to the line really locking down and setting together and I think everyone was just doing a great job and when you do that, you have games like this,” Miller added.
Brown called the line’s shot this week when he said what he saw as the identity of this team.
“I think we got to play smash mouth football, we got to run the ball, we got to stay on track,” said Brown. “It hasn’t changed. Try to play in third and short and defensively just keep everything front of us and get some takeaways and control the clock obviously.”
This game was a big ‘I told you so’ from Brown.
They played smash mouth football. They ran the ball and kept running it and kept pushing around a team that was not used to being pushed around. That plan kept them moving the ball, kept them out of third and long, which kept the Bears from being able to go NASCAR on them. Not without risking getting further gouged on the ground.
Josh Jacobs finished with 123 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. As Brown said of Jacobs after the game; “That motherf—ker can run the ball.”
In turn Derek Carr was not sacked in the game. Khalil Mack got around Trent Brown to get to Carr once, but Carr was able to throw the ball into the turf just before Mack to take him down. Even with the run game forcing Mack to stay protect against it much of the time, Brown keeping him under wraps against the pass is still impressive.
“Yeah, he was awesome, right?” Carr said of Brown. . . “To go out there and play against this defense and to be only touched one time, that doesn’t happen.”
“Obviously Khalil got in there one time and got me. He’s the best pass rusher in the world. He’s going to make his plays, especially in the run game, he’s a very strong physical player, but Brown did a fantastic job. I hope everyone sees our offensive line an the scheme that our coaches put together. They’re the real MVP’s of today’s game.”
Jacobs was running which led to Carr being comfortable in the pocket which led to a win.