OAKLAND — Before Derek Carr broke his fibula, the Raiders were running circles around the Indianapolis Colts. And they were doing it in surprising fashion.
Just when Latavius Murray had seemed to secure his role as Oakland’s every-down halfback, those elusive rookies re-emerged as weapons.
Jalen Richard ran for 66 yards on just six carries and scored on a flare pass.
And DeAndre Washington rushed for a season-high 99 yards on 12 attempts.
It was especially gratifying for Washington, who had all but disappeared from the game plan the previous three weeks.
He looked sharp in the Raiders’ 33-25 win, scoring on consecutive 22-yard touchdown runs — his first in the NFL.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Washington was the first runner this year to score two TDs of 20-plus yards in the same game.
“Big credit goes out to the O-line and the receivers,” Washington said. “They did a hell of a job blocking for me. I think the second one I was untouched, so props to those guys. They made it easy.”
That second score came on a nifty play.
Vadal Alexander checked in as a third offensive tackle and lined up wide, outside tight end Clive Walford. Washington ran between them and found nothing but green space.
“Yeah, your mouth gets watery, man. It definitely gets watery,” Washington said. “To be able to get in there twice, man, after not being in there all season, probably the best Christmas I’ve had in a while.”
And though Murray gained just 40 yards on 15 carries, he didn’t sound miffed about sharing the football.
“There’s no me without those two guys,” Murray said. “They played big today.”
WISE TO THEIR TRICKS
Lost in the excitement and gloom of Sunday’s action was a heads-up play by the Raiders’ special teams. The game was scoreless at the 8:34 mark of the first quarter when an Indianapolis drive bogged down at the Oakland 30.
The Colts lined up for a 48-yard field goal, but holder Pat McAfee (also the team’s punter) took off running to his left. The Raiders were ready for Indy’s trickery, and Darren Bates tackled McAfee for no gain.
“We just knew that they were a good fake team,” Bates said. “They’ve done a lot of fakes since 2013, actually. We seen them run a couple fakes this year. They even ran the same fake back-to-back on punts. This time it was a field-goal fake.”
Sniffing out the play wasn’t the only challenge. Getting McAfee on the ground was another.
“He’s known for his fakes, and he’s pretty fast,” Bates said. “He has some good moves, so you actually have to respect him back there.”
RETURN OF A LEGEND
The moves of the Colts’ 33-year-old running back would have been surprising if Bay Area football fans didn’t know Frank Gore so well. The leading rusher in 49ers history made his return with the Colts and looked as able as ever. Gore ran for 73 yards on 13 carries and showed good burst through the hole.
Afterward, he was much more focused on the loss, which eliminated the 7-8 Colts from playoff contention, and on his own fumble.
“Man, it’s very frustrating,” Gore said. “You know, I think turnovers hurt us today. Especially against a good team like the Oakland Raiders. We knew coming in that we couldn’t turn the ball over. I think that was the key of the loss today.”
Gore’s 73 yards put him 36 yards shy of becoming the first Colts running back to crack 1,000 since Joseph Addai did it in 2007. He also has a chance to be the NFL’s oldest 1,000-yard rusher since 35-year-old John Riggins did it in 1984.
In the first 266 games of his career, Sebastian Janikowski missed four extra points on 558 attempts. Sunday, he missed two. The first went wide left. The second was tipped by Indy’s Hassan Ridgeway and bounced off the right upright.
DE Mario Edwards Jr. made his 2016 debut after missing most of the season with a hip injury.
Menelik Watson, projected as the Oakland starter at right tackle before the season, made his fourth start of the year against the Colts. Watson has been battling groin and calf injures.