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Titans can’t keep pace with Raiders

By Jimmy Trodglen

Editor

Clarksville, Tenn. – Considering the playmakers available for the Raiders, it was a necessity the Titans answer with their own offensive depth.

While the Titans displayed some positives, it wasn’t nowhere enough, as they dropped the season opener to the Raiders 26-16 at Nissan Stadium Sunday.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr threw for 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and Marshawn Lynch ran for 76-yards in his first game in two years. The win was the Raiders third straight against the Titans.

Carr exploited the Titans secondary, spreading the passing game to eight receivers.

“You have to be so careful not to turn the ball over against these guys while staying aggressive to move the ball and get explosive plays,” Carr said.

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for 256 yards and rushed for a touchdown.

There were no turnovers and penalties were limited with the Titans and Raiders both penalized five time for 49 yards.

“To me it’s two good football teams that played today,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “I thought it was going to be a close game, it was a close game.”

How close?

The Raiders finished with 359 total yards. The Titans had 350 total yards. The Raiders, relying on Lynch, ran for 109 yards. The Titans were held to 95 yards, with DeMarco Murray running for 44 yards on 12 carries.

The Raiders held the ball roughly three minutes longer than the Titans and came away with points on six of their first nine drives.

Giorgio Tavecchio, who was added to the Raiders roster when kicker Sebastian Janikowski was placed on IR, kicked four field goals in his first NFL game.

Titans kicker Ryan Succop hit three fields goals, but the Titans were frustrated by not finishing drives inside the red zone.

The Titans drove 93 yards in the second quarter, but were forced to settle for a field goal when the Raiders made a defensive stop on a third-and-2.

“Obviously, anytime you don’t score a touchdown in the red zone you’re disappointed,” Mularkey said.

Onside kick decision

The Titans opened the game attempting an onside kick that was recovered by the Raiders’ Shalom Luani at the 50-yard line.

Carr directed a quick four play drive that ended with his 8-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper.

Mularkey said there was no second-guessing following the failed onside kick attempt.

“Not for a second,” Mularkey said. “We could have had the ball at the 50-yard line with a pretty potent offense if we execute that onside kick.”

Red Zone struggles

Last season the Titans ranked among the NFL leaders in red zone offense, scoring touchdowns at a pace above 77 percent. Against the Raiders, the Titans were one-for-three in the red zone.

“I thought we started off running well,” Murray said. “We’ve got to, like I said, lock in down there especially in the red zone and make sure we want to come out with six points. Definitely execution could have been better offensively.”

Fields goals all around

The Raiders took a 13-10 lead into halftime following Tavecchio’s 52-yard field goal in the closing minute of the second quarter. Tavecchio added another 52-yard field goal with 4:31 left in the third pushing the Raiders’ lead to 16-10.

Succop’s 26-yard field goal as the third quarter ended closed the Raiders’ lead to 16-13.

Carr exploits secondary

Carr put the Raiders comfortably ahead with a 19-yard touchdown throw to Seth Roberts with 11:58 remaining. Carr used seven plays to cover 70 yards, completing four of five passes.

“We came in here knowing this is a tough team and a tough situation, and we would have to be ready to roll and we were so I am proud of our guys,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said.

Jimmy Trodglen, editor, Twitter@Tnsports360