Stanford's 'Moose' clearing lanes

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Stanford's 'Moose' clearing lanes

PALO ALTO -- Has there ever been a more appropriate nickname for an offensive lineman than Moose? It leaves little to no room for interpretation about size or demeanor.

And except for the fact that Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin is extremely articulate -- and lacks antlers -- the nickname fits him as snugly as his shoulder pads.

Thats how he introduced himself to me (the first time I met him), joked quarterback Andrew Luck -- whose blindside is protected by the 6-foot-6, 304-pound Martin.

Martin was crowned with the moniker when he was in fifth grade. He was too big to play Pop Warner football in California, so during a flag football game, one of his teammates first called him Moose.

I guess I was mauling people, Martin said. It stuck since then.

It's how he still introduces himself -- though not to his professors.

"I'm more comfortable with Jon or Jonathan Martin in an academic setting," he said.

So when his name is called in the first round of the NFL draft -- probably not too long after the guy hes protecting -- chances are it will be Jon or Jonathan.

He has natural tools, said head coach David Shaw. An old coach once told me you have to find the guy that can do the things that you cant teach. And you cant teach a guy to be 6-5, 304-pounds and be athletic. And thats what he is.

Hes long. Hes got long arms. Hes tall, but hes flexible. He can kick and punch, and a lot of the publicity hes gotten is from NFL draft rankings, because he looks like an NFL tackle. Guys like that dont come around very often to be able to do the things he can do.

Its tough to statistically quantify the progress of an offensive line or lineman. But there are a few telltale signs. For example Stanford has increased its rushing total every week, from 141 yards against San Jose State to 205 against Duke to 242 against Arizona. Luck has only been sacked twice (though one was him running out of bounds). Those are pretty good figures.

Hes a tireless worker, Luck said of Martin. He takes a lot of pride in being consistent and using the right technique he sets such a great standard for the younger guys. Hes very meticulous, which I appreciate, obviously.

(The offensive line has) done a great job. They are still hungry they take pride in the fact that they want to be a physical group.

Martin started in 27 of the past 29 games since redshirting in 2008. He said he still needs some work on his pass protection (Luck would disagree), but he might be the best run blocker in this years draft class.

I really like those drives at the end of games when you get to run the ball for 10 straight plays, Martin said. Its a pretty gratifying feeling."

Shaw has asked Martin to do more than just protect the presumptive top pick in the NFL draft. With three starters from the offensive line graduating last season, Martin and David DeCastro became the veterans of the line. Tackle Cameron Fleming, center Sam Schwartzstein and guard David Yankey had never started a college football gamed prior to the season opener. And if the group was going to meet their coaches expectations, Martin and DeCastro were going to have to whip them into shape.

The roles those two guys played were so vital, Shaw said. Its one thing when the coaches demand it of a young player. Its an entirely different deal when the veteran players, the guys they see in the locker room, in the weight room, and in the training room demand it of them also. There is no soft place to land when you dont do it right. And thats a good thing. David and Jon have been very vocal in their expectations about how the line should play. And each game its getting better.

The younger players speak highly of Martin, calling him, among other things, an impressive leader. Hes made it an emphasis that as a line and a team, he wont accept anything but their best effort. Martin arrived at Stanford in the midst of the culture change and has seen firsthand the strides the program has made. His hope is that he leaves it in better shape than when he first arrived.

We want to win. We expect to win, Martin said. Thats where the standard has been set. Before, it was just to get to a bowl game. Now we have higher aspirations to win the Pac-12. Its been a fun process to be a part of.

Instant Replay: Raiders offense hits wall in loss to Chiefs

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USATSI

Instant Replay: Raiders offense hits wall in loss to Chiefs

BOX SCORE

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Raiders had a lot working against them Thursday night. They had to travel two time zones on a short week to play the biggest game of the season in bitter cold.

The uphill climb proved too daunting for the Silver and Black, who snapped a six game win streak with a 21-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

This result puts the Chiefs atop the AFC West. Both teams are 10-3, but Kansas City owns an all-important tiebreaker with a season sweep over Oakland with three games to play.

The Raiders now need help to win the division. If that doesn’t happen, they’ll likely end up in the Wild Card pool, where they would likely spend the playoffs on the road should they qualify for the postseason.

The Raiders were down eight points for most of the second half, with the Oakland defense holding the Chiefs down and the Raiders offense scuffling along in the cold. The passing game was disjointed at times, a complete mess at others with everyone save the line sharing in blame.

The offense had an important shot to score, with a drive that started at the Raiders' 26-yard line with 8 minutes, 26 seconds remaining.

The team with six fourth-quarter comebacks couldn’t secure a second. The Raiders marched down to the Kansas City 19-yard line but couldn’t punch it in. Derek Carr and Seth Roberts couldn’t hook up on 4th-and-6 and the Raiders turned it over on downs.

The Raiders offense struggled through this game. Quarterback Derek Carr was off most of the night, without the pinpoint accuracy characteristic of his throws.

Receivers weren’t helping him out either, with several drops in key moments. That was especially true of Roberts and Michael Crabtree, who couldn’t corral golden opportunities.

The biggest belonged to Amari Cooper, who was wide open deep and couldn’t track down a floating pass that likely would’ve been a touchdown had he caught it.

That unit was just 5-for-18 on third down, a clip that doesn’t help win games.

The Raiders scored just six points off just three turnovers, which is the main reason why they lost this pivotal contest.

The defense tightened up in the second half especially, with a pair of third-quarter takeaways followed by solid third-down defense that gave the offense plenty of opportunities.

Latavius Murray was running strong, and finished with 103 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Carr really struggled, with his worst game of the year. That was evident in his stat line: 17-of-41 passing for 117 yards, no touchdowns and a 49.1 passer rating.

The first half did not go the Raiders’ way. They were down 21-10 after two quarters, a stretch only salvaged with a last-second touchdown from Latavius Murray before the half.

Before that, it was all Chiefs. The Raiders opened scoring with a field goal following a muffed punt recovered by James Cowser.

Then Kansas City rattled off 21 unanswered points, including a 36-yard touchdown catch by Tyreek Hill and 78-yard punt return by the same guy and a 3-yard TD run by Charcandrick West.

Things got better in the second half thanks to defensive takeaways. TJ Carrie intercepted a pass deep in Chiefs territory, and the Raiders left with a field goal. Khalil Mack had a strip sack on the next series that Denico Autry recovered, but the Raiders squandered a shot at points when Marquette King couldn’t corral a slightly errant snap in time for Sebastian Janikowski to put a boot on it.

Kelce mocks Marquette:Tyreek Hill returned a Marquette King put 78 yards for a touchdown, something the Chiefs surely enjoyed. Afterward, tight end Travis Kelce found King and did a bronco riding dance – King dances after good punts, and did that one versus Denver – King ended up chasing down Hill and taunting him. That action drew a flag.

Sitting it out: Left guard Kelechi Osemele was a late scratch due to illness. He was replaced by Jon Feliciano and Vadal Alexander on the inside. The Raiders were also missing two other starters in safety Karl Joseph and defensive tackle Stacy McGee. Defensive tackle Darius Latham missed a second straight game with ankle injury, the Raiders thin on the defensive interior.

What’s next: The Raiders will have a mini bye over the weekend, giving them an extended stretch before playing their second road game in as many weeks. The travel to San Diego for another AFC West showdown against the last-place Chargers.

Warriors pushed late by Jazz, still come out on top in Utah

Warriors pushed late by Jazz, still come out on top in Utah

BOX SCORE

SALT LAKE CITY — Stephen Curry scored 26 and the Golden State Warriors controlled the Utah Jazz from start to finish in a 106-99 victory Thursday night.

Curry scored 14 points during a 29-1 run that made it 29-5. The Jazz's only lead of the game was 4-2.

Kevin Durant added 21 points and 11 rebounds for Golden State.

Jazz center Rudy Gobert had 20 points and 17 rebounds, Joe Ingles scored a career-high 21 points, and Shelvin Mack added a season-high 19.

The Jazz have four starters sidelined by injuries, including their top three scorers.

Golden State led 65-46 at halftime as the second unit allowed the Jazz to hang around and, technically, remain within striking distance. The urgency from the first quarter disappeared in the second half and the Jazz crept within five in the fourth quarter thanks to buckets from Mack and Ingles, but Durant closed the game with 11 in the final period.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Rookie Patrick McCaw scored a career-high 10 points, all in the first half. ... Shaun Livingston took the night off to rest. ... Draymond Green was two assists shy of his 15th career triple-double.

Jazz: Utah started the combination of Joe Johnson, Mack, Dante Exum, Gobert and Boris Diaw for the first time this season. ... Ingles hit a career-high five 3-pointers.

INJURED JAZZ

The Jazz were without four starters — Gordon Hayward (finger), Rodney Hood (hamstring), George Hill (toe) and Derrick Favors (knee). Utah has been dealing with injuries all season, but Thursday was their most depleted lineup to date.

"It's easy to be frustrated," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "That's something you have to just fight against and make a decision to do the best with where we are.

"It's a credit to our guys really. We've got a group that has character. Over a longer period of time it becomes more challenging. ... Hopefully there's a silver lining. We've got some guys that are getting minutes that may not be getting otherwise."

QUOTABLE

"This team, my first year was kind of a surprise and everybody seemed to love us," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "Now maybe it's changed a little bit. It honestly makes no difference to us.

UP NEXT

Warriors: Golden State travels to face the Memphis Grizzlies in the third game of a five-game trip.

Jazz: Utah hosts a Sacramento Kings team that has lost eight of 12 on the road.