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Raiders need to get rush attack going in final quarter of season

Las Vegas’ ground game has sputtered in recent weeks

Los Vegas Raiders v New York Jets
Devontae Booker
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

If the Las Vegas Raiders are going to stay in the AFC playoff chase in the next four weeks, they need to regain their strong rush attack.

The Raiders’ ground game has struggled in the past three games, in which they are 1-2. The Raiders won the previous three games and they were excellent on the ground.

Since the drafting of star tailback Josh Jacobs last year, the Raiders have had a winning formula that starts on the ground. They will have to rediscover that magic touch, beginning Sunday at home against the 8-4 Indianapolis Colts.

But it won’t be easy. The Colts has the sixth-best run defense in the NFL as it is allowing 100.9 yards per game. The Raiders are averaging 121.2 yards on the ground per game.

Las Vegas Raiders v Atlanta Falcons
Josh Jacobs
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

But they hit a wall on the ground. Las Vegas has just 201 yards rushing in the past three games and are averaging just 3.1 yards per carry in the stretch. In the three previous games, the Raiders had a total of 572 rushing yards.

It will help if Jacobs can return from an ankle injury that kept him out of the Jets game in which backup Devontae Booker had just 50 yards on 16 carries in his first NFL start since his rookie season in 2016. If Jacobs can play, perhaps the Raiders can find their rushing groove again.

Wednesday, Raiders coach Jon Gruden said they must get the ground attack operating at a high level again.

“I haven’t been happy with it the last couple games,” Gruden said. “I know our guys haven’t either. We can be optimistic and we can be realistic, and I’m going to be realistic, we got to do a better job. We got to have better plans, we got to coach better. We got to do it better, and I’ll just leave it like that. It’s never good enough. Kind of like our pass rush, no matter how good it is some weeks it’s still never good enough. We feed our families with our running game.

We got to be able to run out the clock at the end of the game like we did in Arrowhead (Stadium). We got to be able to convert in short yardage and we didn’t do that in Atlanta and it still irritates all of us. So, we got to do better and we made the effort to get better today.”