OAKLAND, Calif. — Raiders running back Josh Jacobs is one of the leading candidates for NFL offensive rookie of the year. He took a moment after his fourth 100-yard game of the season in Sunday’s 17-10 win over the winless Bengals at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum to lobby for a teammate to get some consideration on the other side of the ball.
“I think (Maxx Crosby) should be in the talks for defensive rookie of the year,” Jacobs said. “That’s how I feel about (his performance).”
Crosby had a franchise rookie-record four sacks and become the first rookie to do so since Washington’s Brian Orakpo in 2009. He’s the first Raider to have four sacks in a game since Khalil Mack had five in 2015.
The previous franchise mark for sacks by a rookie was three by Greg Townsend in 1983.
It was such a dominant performance for Crosby that he ran out of celebrations, awkwardly rejoicing after the final one in the fourth quarter.
“I was tired at the end there,” he said. “I was all over the place mentally. We’ll work on that.”
The fourth-round draft pick has been wreaking havoc on offensive lines for several weeks, but had only 2½ sacks to show for his efforts before Sunday.
Coach Jon Gruden believed it was a matter of time before the Eastern Michigan alum would break out.
“We’ve been talking a lot about the factor grade here,” Gruden said of Crosby’s impact. “Finally someone will count the sacks and write a nice story about him.
“He’s been near the quarterback. He’s been hitting the quarterback. He’s been batting balls down from the quarterback and today, he got to the quarterback. … He’s gotten stronger, he’s gotten better and he’s got a great future here.”
Crosby has grown close with fellow rookie defensive end Clelin Ferrell, who recently dubbed the pair “Salt and Pepper.” Crosby, however, laughed off a question about whether he was competing with Ferrell’s 2½-sack performance from last week’s win over the Chargers.
Ferrell and Crosby, the only pair of rookie defenders to each have three sacks this season, have suddenly given the Raiders a fearsome pass rush. It’s the first time since 2008 the Raiders have recorded at least five sacks in two consecutive games. Oakland had just 13 sacks last season.
The ability to get to the quarterback is even impacting Gruden’s decision-making. He elected to punt from Cincinnati’s 33-yard line with two minutes left and the Raiders clinging to a 17-10 lead instead of trying for a field goal or trying to pick up the first down.
“We felt our pass rush in a predictable situation would make it hard on their young quarterback to go 80 yards,” Gruden said. “I played it a little conservative if you want to say it. I really trusted our defense.”
Crosby continues to reward that faith. Jacobs wasn’t the only offensive player impressed.
“He was feeling it,” tight end Darren Waller said. “That dude, from the jump at OTAs and training camp showed he was going to be somebody that goes out there and brings the energy up, brings the crowd up and just makes plays. To see it out there, it’s just Maxx being Maxx.”
Crosby was also able to force a fumble on his first sack of the day, setting the Raiders up in good field position though they failed to capitalize.
He hopes it’s just the start of a strong close to the season.
“I had a good game, but it was a collective unit coming together,” he said. “We rushed well all day. I feel like it started (last game) and we just kept getting better.
“It was good (for me) to finally get some sacks, but it’s on to the next one.”