The Oakland Raiders have long sought after a player than can help close and secure wins in crunch time. Based on Sunday’s performance, it looks like they have that in rookie JoshJacobs.
The Oakland Raiders’ offense had jumped to an early two-possession lead, the defense kept Jacoby Brissett and the Indianapolis Colts stagnant for a majority of the game, and Erik Harris came away with the pick-six in the fourth quarter (the Raiders first interception of the season). All of the above makes for a surefire Oakland victory.
And yet with just 1:10 left in the fourth quarter, Brissett connected with Eric Ebron for a 48-yard touchdown, cutting the deficit to just seven points. For a moment, thoughts of “this is where the Raiders fold like they always do” likely came about.
But rookie Josh Jacobs had other plans and took matters into his own hands to secure the Raiders’ second victory of the season, a huge win on this tough five-game stretch away from home.
Jacobs tallied 108 total yards in Sunday’s victory over the Colts, with 79 yards accounted for on the ground. Of those 79 yards rushing, 36 of those came within the fourth quarter, while the Raiders were playing the safe game, managing the clock and time of possession to keep a Colts comeback at bay.
After the Colts’ cut the lead to just seven points, with timeouts in hand to help force an Oakland three and out, the Raiders needed just one last conversion on the last drive of the day in order to leave Indianapolis with a .500 record. Immediately Jacobs ran hard for a seven-yard gain on the first play of the drive. After a Colts timeout, he followed up with a five-yard rush to move the chains, all but securing a win.
Jon Gruden didn’t need to draw up a passing play or any type of trick play to move the chains. In years past, that may have been the case for any Raiders team, as they generally lacked the ability to close games down the stretch. More specifically, they lacked a single player that they could turn to when they needed it.
It’s been a small sample size of four games of a young career, but it looks like the Raiders have that closer in Josh Jacobs. And the feeling is mutual, given that rookie takes a lot of pride in holding that title:
“A lot of pride…just as a running back from a standpoint, that you can be relied upon to close games. And I mean, it was a close game at the end so it was just definitely huge for us.” Being a closer is no small task, just as Jacobs points out. Holding that moniker signifies the confidence to be relied upon, and the fact that he, as a rookie, has not wavered at having that responsibility on his shoulders is a bright spot for this team.
This Raiders team needs to stay competitive on a week-to-week basis, and there will be more situations than not where Oakland will be clinging to a lead late in games against better opponents. In those moments the Raiders need to be able to seal the deal and go to someone they can rely upon. So far, it seems like it’s the rookie running back who is more than up to the task.