OAKLAND — Marshawn Lynch turned back the clock to his Beast Mode days and powered the Raiders back into first place in the AFC West.
Lynch had a 51-yard touchdown run and his first 100-yard rushing game since coming out of retirement, leading the Raiders to a 24-17 victory against the Giants on Sunday in New York’s first game without Eli Manning starting in 13 years.
“He’s still got it,” Raiders linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. “Just to see him running the way that he’s run for so many years. I know exactly what that defense is facing, and he’s a hard tackle.”
Lynch’s big game helped Oakland (6-6) overcome the absences of starting receivers Michael Crabtree (suspension) and Amari Cooper (injury) to win consecutive games for the first time since the opening two games of the season.
The win moved the Raiders a three-way tie for first place with the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers despite a four-game losing streak earlier in the season. Oakland still has trips to Kansas City and the season finale at Los Angeles that will go a long way in determining their playoff hopes.
“You have to stay the course,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “There’s a lot of adversity that happens every season. You wish you could just go out and win them all and do it in a good way. That just hasn’t been our road this year. It’s been a little bit more difficult, a lot of it because of ourselves. But we’re in a situation where all of our goals are right in front of us.”
The Giants (2-10) are playing for the future, having made a quarterback change this week and facing speculation about the job security of coach Ben McAdoo. New York hasn’t fired a coach during the season since 1976.
“I’m going to coach this team as long as my key card works,” McAdoo said.
Geno Smith lost two fumbles before throwing a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to Evan Engram for the Giants (2-10) while Manning spent the day on the sideline watching.
New York benched Manning earlier in the week, ending his streak of 210 consecutive regular-season starts, and he spent his first game as a spectator since Nov. 14, 2004, walking around the sideline with no helmet and listening to the play calls with an ear piece.
Smith finished 21 for 34 for 212 yards.
“I just hate to lose,” Smith said. “I don’t want to lose at all in anything. I was upset that we lost. I felt like we had some opportunities and we couldn’t take advantage of them.”
Lynch delivered his biggest game since ending his retirement and joining the hometown Raiders this season, gaining 101 yards on 17 carries. His 51-yard run on Oakland’s opening drive staked the team to the lead and his 21-yard catch and run on a third-down pass in the fourth quarter set up a 9-yard TD run by DeAndre Washington that made it 17-7.
Lynch has averaged 93 yards from scrimmage since returning from a one-game suspension with four TDs in four games.
“I’ve seen a little more pep in his step,” coach Jack Del Rio said. “I can’t speak for him. I just know what I see. It’s been good. I welcome it and we’re taking full advantage of it.”