It wasn’t a bad four-day stretch for the Oakland Raiders.
Thursday night’s 24-17 win over the San Diego Chargers was followed by two welcome days off on the weekend and then Sunday’s Broncos win over the Chiefs that now has the Raiders all alone in first place in the AFC West.
At 5-4, Oakland, is now trailed by three teams tied at 4-5, the Chargers, Broncos and Chiefs.
Oakland gets back to work Monday to get ready for Sunday’s game in Minnesota against the 2-6 Vikings, who will have a short week to prepare following their Monday night game against the Packers.
Though the status of top running back Darren McFadden (mid-foot sprain) remains uncertain for the Vikings game, Michael Bush once again has shown he can carry the load for the Raiders when called upon.
Against the Chargers, Bush carried 30 times for 157 yards, plus had 85 yards on three receptions. His 242 yards from scrimmage in one game is the fourth-best total in Raiders history, behind Clem Daniels’ (256, 248) and Art Powell (247).
Not only is Bush effective, but the 6-foot-1, 245-pounder is a battering ram who doles out punishment to defensive backs and fits in perfectly with Oakland’s power running game.
“He wears down the safeties,” quarterback Carson Palmer told the Bay Area News Group’s Jerry McDonald after Thursday’s game. “They don’t want to get back in coverage. They don’t want to turn and run quite as quickly because they’re getting hit by a guy that’s 40 pounds, 50 pounds heavier than they are.”
Head coach Hue Jackson said he had no specific plan to give Bush 30 carries. The game just evolved that way.
“I thought I was going to get it to Michael as many times as I think it took to win the game,” he said at Friday’s news conference. “If it meant 50 times, I would have handed it to him 50 times.”
Though the best scenario for the Raiders would be to have both McFadden and Bush ready to go Sunday, McFadden’s mid-foot sprain has made any projection of a comeback iffy. As Jackson mentioned Friday, “You have to get back to walking first before you can do anything, so my main thing is to get him out of the walking boot first.”
Having Bush as backup is a luxury the Raiders likely won’t have next year. Bush is in the last year of his contract, notes McDonald, and he’s likely in line to sign a big free-agent deal in the offseason.