NASHVILLE – The Raiders entered Sunday’s fourth quarter in a one-score game. Surprise, surprise.
They lived in those moments last year. And fared pretty darn well.
The quarter started with a Raiders touchdown. Then a Titans stop. One deviation from the script: The Raiders didn’t need fourth quarter magic.
They held a late lead and put the Titans away without much drama.
They left with a 26-16 victory, the third win at Nissan Stadium in as many seasons.
Giorgio Tavecchio’s 43-yard field goal sealed it with just over a minute left.
While the offense scored in bunches, the Raiders defense held strong in the first game that matters. They were often criticized this preseason, but looked far better in Nashville. They gave up an early touchdown and put a force field at the goal line after that.
A series of Ryan Succop field goals kept Tennessee in it, but the offense closed things out with an impressive four-minute offense.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr made it a two-score game with a 19-yard strike to Seth Roberts. That capped a 70-yard drive well orchestrated, with a few nice runs by Marshawn Lynch. He finished with 76 yards on 18 carries.
The Raiders took a 23-13 lead into the final seven minutes and held it to start the season with a win.
The game started with a touchdown exchange. The Raiders cruised downfield to open their season, with a 50-yard touchdown drive that ended with Amari Cooper’s first score.
Marcus Mariota capped his first drive with a 10-yard touchdown run.
That furious pace didn’t continue. Field goals ruled the second and third quarters, with the Raiders winning that battle 3-2.
That set up another close one down the stretch, a position the Raiders were far too used to last season.
TAVECCHIO’S FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL: Giorgio Tavecchio had an easy entry into his first regular-season game. He was charged with making a 20-yard field goal. Chip shot. Easy peasy.
His next effort was far tougher. No matter. He pumped a 52-yard field goal through the uprights to close the first half. He made another from the same distance in the third quarter.
Overall, he was 4-for-4 on field goals after taking over for Sebastian Janikowski, who was placed on injured reserve Saturday with a back injury. It’s uncertain what the Raiders will do at kicker moving forward, but Tavecchio made a solid case to keep the job.
SMITH GETS HIS JOB BACK: Cornerback Sean Smith lost his starting spot in the base defense early in training camp. TJ Carrie took with a nice start to the summer, but he faded as the preseason wore down.
He got picked on during the first half, and was taken out of the base defense. Smith stepped in, with Carrie playing the slot.
-- The Raiders tried to rotate right tackles in the first half. It didn’t go well. Vadal Alexander came in on the third series and was directly involved in one sack and didn’t help on another. Marshall Newhouse was fare better early after getting the start.
-- Raiders tight end Jared Cook was expected to make an impact on the Raiders offense, and he certainly did. The former Tennessee Titan had five catches for 56 yards.