It was time to run the clock. It was time to run the ball. It was Sunday night in Seattle. The Seahawks had scored to pull within 17-13 of the Raiders.
Fourth quarter. Seven minutes 49 seconds to play. Plenty of time for a Seattle comeback.
For the Raiders, it was time to hand the ball to a dependable back who could pick up a few yards, kill off a few minutes and, above all, hang onto the ball.
A year ago, that job would have gone to Eric Dickerson, Marcus Allen or Nick Bell. But Bell is hurt and the others are gone. So the Raiders turned to rookie Greg Robinson, who has played like anything but an eighth-round draft pick.
It was Robinson’s most crucial assignment to date. And he responded.
Behind the reliable blocking of fullback Steve Smith, Robinson carried five times in nine plays, gaining 19 yards during a drive that ate up 5:49, leaving Jeff Gossett to punt the ball away with only two minutes to play.
The Raiders hung on to win, 17-13.
“It was a great feeling to know they had confidence in me in that situation,” Robinson said. “Whenever they call on me, I’ll take it. It doesn’t matter.”
Overall Sunday, Robinson gained 54 yards in 17 carries.
Robinson and Ty Montgomery, a converted receiver who lends speed and pass-catching ability to the Raider backfield, were two major factors in the decision to sever ties with veteran running back Gaston Green. Green, a former Bruin and Ram, was cut last Saturday.
“We’ve got a lot of talented people,” Raider Coach Art Shell said. “We’ve got a guy like Greg Robinson who stepped to the forefront. He made it awfully difficult for us to get rid of him. In all fairness to Gaston, when we ran him, he did not have the room to run. I’m sure there’s a fit for him someplace. But, at this time, it’s not here.”