September 19, 2017

Off To A Good Start

For week one of the 2017 NFL season, the Raiders found themselves in Nashville, Tennessee to take on the Titans.  The Raiders won the coin flip and elected to receive.  Ryan Succop teed the ball up and instead of kicking it through the end zone, he tried an onside kick.  Rookie Shalom Luani wasn’t fooled and recovered the ball at the 50-yard line.  That gave the high powered Raider offense excellent field position.  Quarterback Derek Carr took to the air on first down and completed a six-yard pass to wide receiver Amari Cooper.  Running back Marshawn Lynch ran up the middle for 14 yards and that moved the ball to the Tennessee 30-yard line.  From the 30, Carr tossed a short pass to tight end Jared Cook and he took it up the right side for 22 yards.  Carr connected with Cooper again on the next play.  He shook off a defender, fell on top of another, got up and was pushed into the end zone for a touchdown.  Filling in for the injured Sebastian Janikowski was Giorgio Tavecchio.  He had no problem with the extra point and the Raiders led 7-0 with 12:49 to go in the first quarter.

The Titans started at their 25 and on third and ten, quarterback Marcus Mariota threw across the middle for wide receiver Rishard Matthews.  He was wide open and easily made the catch for a gain of 19 yards.  Three straight carries by running back DeMarco Murray moved the ball to the Oakland 44-yard line.  Once again, the Titans found themselves in a third and long situation and once again, they had no problem getting a first down.  Mariota connected with Matthews again and that gave them a first down at the 35.  The next two plays gained two yards and you know what that brought up?  ANOTHER third and long situation!  Do you think the Raiders stopped them?  If you said no, you would be correct.  Mariota threw deep up the right side and rookie wide receiver Cory Davis made a nice catch at the ten-yard line.  From the ten, Mariota took the snap and ran up the left side untouched for a touchdown.  Succop made the point after and the game was tied 7-7 with 6:58 to go in the first quarter.

I was kind of hoping the Titans would try another onside kick.  But they didn’t and the Raiders started at their 25-yard line.  On third and six from the 29, Carr completed a 12-yard pass to Cook.  An offensive pass interference penalty on wide receiver Michael Crabtree moved the Raiders back ten yards.  On third and 15 from the 36, Carr looked for Crabtree again.  The pass was incomplete, but rookie cornerback Adoree’ Jackson was flagged for pass interference.  That gave the Raiders a first down at the Tennessee 40.  Two carries by Lynch and another pass to Crabtree put the ball at the 12.  Three plays gained nine yards and on fourth and one, head coach Jack Del Rio opted to go for it.  Lynch got the call.  He was hit in the backfield, but managed to fall forward and get the first down.  So, it is now first and goal from the two.  What do you do?  How about giving it to Lynch again?  Nope.  That didn’t happen.  Instead, the Raiders called three straight pass plays.  Each pass was intended for Cooper and each one was dropped by Cooper.  I don’t think I have ever seen that happen before.  On fourth down, Tavecchio made a 20-yard field goal.  I wonder if Lynch was having flashbacks to Super Bowl 49 when the Seahawks threw from the one-yard line.  I bet he was.  With 14:55 to go in the second quarter, the Raiders led 10-7.

Both teams punted on their next possessions.  Punter Marquette King pinned the Titans at their two-yard line.  Two carries by running back Derrick Henry and a completion to Matthews moved them to the 31.  Another carry by Henry and a 15-yard scramble by Mariota netted a first down at the 48.  On third and six from the Oakland 48, tight end Delanie Walker caught a pass across the middle for a gain of ten yards.  Two passes to Davis and an eight-yard run by Henry had the Titans knocking at the door.  But on third and goal from the six, Mariota was stuffed for a gain of one yard.  Succop came into the game and his 23-yard attempt was good.  With 43 seconds to go in the first half, the score was tied 10-10.

From the 25, Carr and the Raider offense went to work.  Completions to Crabtree and running back DeAndre Washington quickly moved the ball to the Tennessee 39-yard line.  With 20 seconds to go, Carr completed a short pass to Cook.  Del Rio let the clock run down and with two seconds to go, Tavecchio was called on for a 52-yard attempt.  The kick was good and the Raiders led 13-10 at halftime.

The second half didn’t exactly start off with a bang.  The Raiders punted once and the Titans punted twice.  With 8:42 to go in the third quarter, the Raiders got the ball back at their 37.  On third and eight from the 39, Carr found Cooper across the middle for a gain of ten yards.  Lynch got loose up the right side and was dragged down at the Tennessee 34-yard line.  But an illegal use of hands penalty on center Rodney Hudson slowed the Raiders down and the drive stalled at the 39.  King came on to punt and the Titans were flagged for running into the kicker.  Two guys hit King while he was in the act of kicking the ball.  That looked like roughing to me.  But that got the Raiders five yards and put them in field goal range.  Once again, Tavecchio blasted a 52-yard attempt through the uprights.  That gave the Raiders a 16-10 lead with 4:31 to go in the third quarter.

The Titans took over at their 25.  A six-yard carry by Murray and completions to Matthews and Walker had them on the move again.  On second and six from the Oakland 36, Murray had his longest gain of the day as he ran up the middle for a gain of 21 yards.  On third and two from the seven, Murray ran up the right side and was knocked backwards by rookie linebacker Nicholas Morrow.  Succop made his 26-yard field goal attempt and the Raiders led 16-13 with 3:02 to go in the third quarter.

The Raiders started at their 30 and Carr found Cook across the middle for 11 yards.  Two carries by Lynch and a six-yard completion to running back Jalen Richard gave the Raiders a first down at the Tennessee 37.  Carr looked for Crabtree again found him for a gain of 18 yards.  Carr looked like he was having fun throwing the ball all over the place and on the next play, he threw to the end zone.  Wide receiver Seth Roberts hauled in the pass for a touchdown.  Tavecchio made the point after and the Raiders led 23-13 with 1:26 to go in the third quarter.

Both teams ended up punting on their next possessions.  With 6:44 remaining in the game, the Titans took over at their 20-yard line.  Murray got the drive off to a nice start with a seven-yard run.  That was followed by another pass to Walker for a gain of 13 yards.  That’s when linebacker Bruce Irvin came down with a very severe case of stupidity.  On second and ten from the 40, Mariota was sacked by defensive end/linebacker Khalil Mack.  The ball came loose, but the Titans recovered it at the 23.  That was a nice play.  But it didn’t count because Irvin was flagged for being offside.  Next, Mariota completed a short pass to Walker.  Irvin stopped his forward progress and then proceeded to slam Walker to the ground.  That was completely unnecessary and Irvin was flagged again.  This time it was of the 15-yard variety for unnecessary roughness.  What the hell was he thinking?  That penalty gave the Titans a first down at the Oakland 34-yard line.  The next three plays were all pass plays and they all fell incomplete.  But, thanks to our good friend Mr. Irvin, the Titans were in field goal range.  Succop had been watching Tavecchio kick 52-yard field goals all day and this was his big chance to prove he could do the same thing.  His 52-yard kick was good and the Raiders led 23-16 with 4:49 to go in the game.

Return man Cordarrelle Patterson returned the kickoff to the 41-yard line.  Now it was time for the Raiders to eat up some clock.  In other words, it was time for “Beastmode.”  Lynch carried the ball four times and Richard added a couple of carries.  That moved the Raiders to the Tennessee 23-yard line.  On third and two from the 23, Lynch got the call again and the Titans were ready for it.  Lynch was thrown for a loss of two yards.  With 1:15 on the clock, Tavecchio trotted on to the field and his 43-yard field goal attempt was good.  That put the Raiders up 26-16 with 1:09 remaining.

The Titans quickly moved from their 25 to the Oakland 34.  With 12 seconds to go, they decided to try a field goal.  This time Succop missed from 52 yards and that sealed the 26-16 victory for the Raiders.  To tell you the truth, I was shocked at how well the Raider defense played.  I had visions of this game being a 38-35 shootout.  But they played well and allowed only one touchdown.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 22 of 32 for 262 yards and two touchdowns.  Michael Crabtree led the team in receptions with six and yards with 83.  Crabtree, Cooper and Cook combined for 16 receptions for 201 yards.  Marshawn Lynch led the team in rushing as he grinded out 76 tough yards on 18 carries.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 109 yards on 29 carries.  Defensively, safety Karl Joseph led the team in solo tackles with six.  As I said before, the defense played well.  But Mariota had all day to throw and there was little pressure applied to him.  That needs to be addressed.

For the Titans, Marcus Mariota completed 25 of 41 for 256 yards.  He also had three carries for 26 yards and a touchdown.  Delanie Walker led the team in receptions with seven and yards with 76.  DeMarco Murray was the leading rusher with 44 yards on 12 carries.  21 of those yards came on one carry.  All totaled, the Titans rushed for 95 yards on 21 carries.  Defensively, safety Kevin Byard led the team in solo tackles with eight.

Up next for the Raiders is a home game against the New York Jets.  They are coming off a loss to the Buffalo Bills and I am sure they won’t be too thrilled to be playing on the dirt infield of the Oakland Coliseum.  But, the Oakland Athletics have no chance to make the playoffs this year and it will be the only game played with a dirt infield.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

 

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