Raiders run game goes missing in 2nd straight loss
Murray got just two carries the entire second half on Sunday in Oakland's 16-10 loss to Denver because of a banged-up shoulder. That comes a week after Murray was a spectator for the final drive of a 22-20 loss in Chicago.
Those two narrow losses are the difference between the Raiders (2-3) heading into their bye week with a losing record or in first place in the AFC West.
Not that Murray was making a major impact when he did play.
After playing a major role in Oakland's first back-to-back wins in three years with 204 yards rushing and two touchdowns against Baltimore and Cleveland, Murray and the running game have been grounded the past two weeks.
The Raiders are averaging just 2.9 yards per carry the past two weeks, giving little ground support to Derek Carr and the passing game.
''The run game is a team game,'' coach Jack Del Rio said. ''You go up against some fronts that are a little stouter than others. I think, talking about yesterday's game, I think they did a pretty solid job of stopping the run. I think both teams were able to effectively shut down the running game.''
Murray played a major role in two turnovers in Chicago and was benched on the final drive when Oakland was stopped on a third-and-2. That left the Bears plenty of time to drive to the winning field goal.
On Sunday against Denver, Murray did not play after the second series in the second half. Del Rio said Murray was nursing a shoulder injury, but Murray had his helmet on for much of the time and was ready to play if needed.
''All I would say on that is he is one of many guys that are giving it up for the team, playing hard, playing through some pain in some situations,'' Del Rio said. ''I'm really appreciative of that, respectful of that, and we'll continue to do the best we can to put the best product out there.''
The Raiders came up empty on their first four drives without Murray and fell short in another close game.
''It's disappointing,'' Murray said. ''It doesn't matter how tight or close, it hurts to lose. We've got to try to find a way to win those close games.''
Murray wasn't the only key Raiders player absent late in the game. Rookie receiver Amari Cooper also was largely a non-factor in the second half in what has become a recurring theme through five games this season.
The Raiders have made a concerted effort to get Cooper involved early and he leads the NFL with 311 yards receiving in the first half on 18 catches with two touchdowns. Cooper is tied for 97th in the league in yards receiving in the second half with 75 yards on 10 catches.
Cooper had two catches for 13 yards in the second half Sunday after being shut out after halftime the previous week by Chicago. Cooper did draw a 48-yard pass interference penalty to set up a late field goal for Oakland but he did little else.
''I thought he was free a couple of times,'' Del Rio said. ''We had him on that late PI we had him down on the field for a big one and they chose to make a penalty there and give us that yardage via penalty versus a catch. The effectiveness of going to him and taking advantage of his abilities, I thought we did a decent job of that, in particular early.''
NOTES: DE Justin Tuck had an MRI on his injured shoulder but Del Rio had no other information. ... S TJ Carrie played all but two defensive snaps despite a chest injury that kept him out of practice all week. Carrie was originally listed as out before lobbying Saturday to get upgraded to questionable. ''I've never done it,'' Del Rio said. ''It's a first for me. I even told him that.''
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