Josh Jacobs should be used to breaking records. In Week 1, Oakland’s running back became the first rookie to score two touchdowns and gain 100 yards from scrimmage since Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson did so in 2001. But on Sunday, after rushing for 123 yards and two touchdowns in the Raiders‘ 24-21 upset win over the Chicago Bears in London, he was obviously surprised when told that he had broken Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen’s franchise record for most rushing yards by a Raiders rookie running back after five games. Jacobs has 430 rushing yards through five games while helping Oakland get off to a surprising 3-2 start to the season.
“I just found out, so I don’t know. I guess I’ll go home and think about it on this flight back,” Jacobs said with a laugh when asked about breaking Allen’s 36-year-old record, via NFL Network’s Stacey Dales. “Honestly, I thought I lost us the game for a second. So in my head, the whole thing I was thinking was, ‘I gotta grind hard, I gotta get us back in it.’ For me to cap off a drive like that, man, it was huge.”
The play Jacobs alluded to was his fumble with the Raiders down three points and 3 yards away from taking the lead with just under 14 minutes remaining. Fortunately for Jacobs, Oakland’s defense quickly forced a Chicago punt that helped set up the Raiders’ 13-play, 97-yard scoring drive that ended with Jacobs’ 2-yard, game-winning touchdown run.
“I just hit that reset button,” Jacobs said when asked how he quickly put his fumble behind him. “It was just a rookie mistake. I’m gonna have those [moments], and the key to it is just to keep fighting, which is what I did.”
It’s clear that Jacobs and his teammates are motivated by the team’s naysayers who are undoubtedly surprised by Oakland’s back-to-back wins that have it back over the .500 mark. Jacobs and the Raiders were also motivated to have success on Sunday against former teammate Khalil Mack and the rest of the Bears’ stout run defense.
Oakland’s offense emphatically outplayed Chicago’s offense, out-gaining it 398-236 while controlling the clock for nearly 35 minutes. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was efficient, going 25 of 32 while not throwing an interception. Conversely, Bears quarterback Chase Daniel threw two costly interceptions that played a key role in Chicago’s three-game winning streak coming to an end.
“Coming in, all you heard coming in was the Bears’ defense, the Bears’ defense,” Jacobs said. “You heard how we can’t run on them is this and that … the results turned out as they did.”
It’s safe to say that Jacobs will most likely surpass Allen’s rookie rushing total. Allen, the 1982 Offensive Rookie of the Year, rushed for 697 yards and an NFL-best 11 touchdowns during the strike-shortened, nine-game regular season. The following year, Allen rushed for more than 1,000 yards during the regular season before earning MVP honors in the Raiders’ 38-9 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII. Allen went on to enjoy a stellar 16-year career that saw him retire as the only running back in NFL history with over 10,000 career rushing yards, 5,000 career receiving yards and 100 touchdowns.
Although it’s far too soon to make any long-term projections about Jacobs’ career, it’s clear that he is a talented player who will be key to any success Oakland will have as the 2019 season continues.