Written for Salute Magagzine; original here
It was a barn burner, but the Oakland Raiders came away with a victory in their first regular season game of 2017.
The Raiders triumphed over the Tennessee Titans in Nashville yesterday with a 26-16 win. 12 of those points came off of field goals, with the team slowly but surely getting the advantage scoring wise.
All of those kicks came from the newly signed Giorgio Tavecchio, who was elevated from the practice squad after the team placed longtime kicker Sebastian Janikowski on injured reserve the day before kickoff. Tavecchio capitalized immediately, hitting two 52 yarders in addition to a chip shot and a game sealing 43 yarder late in the contest.
The two touchdowns came from the arm of Derek Carr, who threw for 262 yards on 22 for 32 passing. The first came on the first drive of the season after the Titans tried a surprise onside kick to start the game, which the Raiders recovered at midfield. Carr marched the team down the field in four plays, finishing with a strike to Amari Cooper, who fought his way into the endzone by keeping himself upright with the football itself.
Cooper finished with 5 catches for 62 yards and the TD. Michael Crabtree led the way with 6 catches for 83 yards; he had a number of acrobatic catches throughout the day. Jared Cook caught all five of his targets for 53 yards. Seth Roberts had Carr’s other TD, his lone catch of the day.
On the ground, the Raiders were productive without being overly flashy. Marshawn Lynch did decent in his first outing in silver and black, carrying the ball 18 times for 76 yards. He and Jalen Richard carried the way on the Raiders’ final scoring drive, putting the ball in position for Tavecchio to lock the game up.
In spite of the offense’s success, there are still a number of concerns on defense. The Raiders should feel accomplished for holding the Titans to 16 points, but they still struggled to prevent big plays through the air. The team remains incapable of covering tight ends; Delanie Walker led the way for the Titans with 7 catches and 76 yards.
Marcus Mariota went 25 for 41 and 253 yards, scoring the team’s only TD on a 10 yard option play. Rishard Matthews and first round rookie Corey Davis both played well, the former putting up 5 catches for 71 yards and the latter turning in 69 yards on 6 catches.
At least the Raiders run defense bottled DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry up. Murray ran for just 44 yards on 12 carries, while Henry rushed 6 times for 25 yards. Karl Joseph was the most consistent defender for Oakland, leading the team with 9 total tackles and a key pass breakup that held the Titans to a field goal.
Ryan Succop scored most of the Titans’ points, though he did miss a 52 yard field goal with 12 seconds to go that would’ve put the Titans behind by a TD.
The Raiders will host the New York Jets for their first home game of the 2017 regular season next week. The Titans will be travelling to Florida to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Game rating: 3.5/5