Instant Analysis: Carr, Tavecchio lead Raiders to season-opening win vs Titans

Instant Analysis: Carr, Tavecchio lead Raiders to season-opening win vs Titans


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.

Injury report: CB Sean Smith questionable; Washington TE Reed's status uncertain


Injury report: CB Sean Smith questionable; Washington TE Reed's status uncertain

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Raiders are remarkably healthy heading into Sunday night’s game against the Washington football club.

The entire 53-man roster practiced fully on Friday, before heading to the nation’s capital.

That includes veteran cornerback Sean Smith, who missed the previous game with a neck injury. A shoulder ailment cropped up during the week, which prompted the Raiders to label him questionable heading into Week 3. Smith’s the only Raider on the injury report, and even he’s in decent shape.

“I mean we put it on there because there’s still a little bit of a question,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “You don’t have probable’s anymore. Given the choices, I just left him that way.”

That means the Raiders are going to have some healthy scratches a week after Smith was the only injured player sitting out.

Washington has some impact players on the mend. That included tight end Jordan Reed, who is questionable with a rib/sternum injury. He stands 6-foot-2, 246 pounds and is the type of receiving tight end that gives the Raiders fits. He has 1,638 yards 17 touchdowns the last two seasons, using good hands and a large frame to create mismatches in the secondary.

It’ll be key for the Raiders to defend him well if he’s active, with Nicholas Morrow as a primary coverage option.

“We’re prepared to face him,” Del Rio said. “We think he’s a good player. We’ll approach it that way and adjust if he doesn’t go.”

Washington also lists starting inside linebacker Mason Foster and running back Rob Kelley as questionable.

Raiders Injury Report
CB Sean Smith (neck/shoulder)

Washington Injury Report

TE Jordan Reed (rib/sternum), LB Mason Foster (shoulder), RB Rob Kelley (rib), S Monate Nicholson (shoulder), CB Josh Norman (shoulder)

Karl Joseph living up to first-round billing with early impact for Raiders

Karl Joseph living up to first-round billing with early impact for Raiders

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Raiders safety Karl Joseph notched his first career forced fumble in Week 2’s blowout victory over the New York Jets. It came on his first sack, where he bent around a tackle into the pocket and devoured his pray.

Joseph recovered the ball, and the Raiders quickly scored a touchdown. The second-year pro enjoyed that moment, but left the game with regrets.

"I should have definitely had more sacks than I did,” Joseph said. “I feel like I should have had three.”

Joseph had quarterback Josh McCown in the crosshairs three times, and feels like he should’ve finished each one. The game plan provided opportunity. Joseph blitzed six times – fellow safety Reggie Nelson attacked thrice – and pressured the quarterback four times.

It was a relatively new responsibility, considering he blitzed nine times all last year. Joseph will be first to say he was a different player then. He was less explosive, more tentative and a smidge less confident, lingering effects from an ACL tear during his final college season. Joseph was cleared to play as a rookie but wasn’t all the way back, doubly hampered by missing an offseason program where rookies grow quick.

"I wasn’t completely myself,” Joseph said in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports California. “I feel a lot more like myself this year. I obviously feel better physically, and the year of experience in the system has definitely helped. So has adjusting to the NFL life. That’s been an easier transition for me.”

Joseph is playing more like his highlight reel from West Virginia, where he proved a heavy hitter and a solid cover man worthy of last year’s No. 14 overall draft pick. The Jets game isn’t the only evidence of that.

Joseph had an excellent training camp, flashing an aggressive style and solid timing making plays in practice. That translated to the regular-season opener at Tennessee, when he saved a touchdown on consecutive plays. The first came on an open-field tackle. The second was a leaping pass breakup in the end zone, proof positive that Joseph was ready to make a big impact.

"He’s really good close to the line of scrimmage,” defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. "He’s a really good tackler in the open field. He also plays well on the back end. I think his development is right on time right now.”

The Raiders recognize that, and are using him like a queen on the chessboard. He can move back or forward, as an attacker or the last line of defense. He’s a rover at times, with an ability to create havoc at all levels of the defense.

Joseph is an excellent fit for the defensive scheme, bring a tone-setting physicality to the secondary. He is learning, as part of his development, that the nuclear option isn’t always best. There are times when it is, and Joseph enters those scenarios without fear.

"You can’t play worried about getting hurt. That’s not the way I play,” Joseph said. “It’s about being smart. I had to adjust my game coming into the NFL. Every hit can’t be a big hit. Sometimes you have to be smart and just wrap people up, but you can’t ever play scared.”

He isn’t afraid to take risks or attack when asked, and is already making a major impact on this year’s defense. That isn’t a surprise. It’s expected of first-round picks.

"That’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s supposed to make plays,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He’s a guy we selected because we thought he’d be a guy that could come in and impact on our defense. In the first two games of this year he’s played well. There are still things, like I tell you all the time, that have cleaning up to do, work to do, things to improve on, but he’s off to a good start and obviously it follows up from a good offseason. Healthy, a lot of good work and confidence that he’s gaining as we go.”