Raiders Open Season With Win, Find New Cult Hero

Rookie kicker has monster day in 26-16 win over Titans

If the Raiders had not lost QB Derek Carr to a broken leg in Week 16 last year they likely would have made a deeper playoff run than their opening-round loss to the Texans.

If the Titans had not lost QB Marcus Mariota to a broken leg in Week 16 last year they might have earned the playoff spot that went to the Dolphins.

Both guys returned against one another in Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season and both had nice moments … but it was a 27-year-old rookie kicker from Italy who stole the show in a 26-16 Raiders win.

Giorgio Tavecchio was a perfect 4-4 on field goal tries in his first regular season NFL game, including a pair of 52-yarders. He was signed on Saturday night when the Raiders put veteran kicker Sebastian Janikowski on Injured Reserve. Part of the reason Tavecchio got the job is he, too, is left-footed.

Tavecchio, who was a walk-on at Cal, was first invited to an NFL camp with the 49ers in 2012. He also had a shot with the Packers and Lions but never made a 53-man roster. When Janikowski started having back issues the “rookie” got his shot with the Raiders and made a heck of a debut.

The special teams theme started with the opening kickoff. Titans head coach Mike Mularkey decided to gamble with an onside kick on the very first play of the season. It didn’t work and the Raiders started at midfield. It only took them four plays to find the end zone.

One of those plays was a 14-yard run by Marshawn Lynch, who looked like his old physical, slashing, “Beast Mode” self. Carr finished the drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper and a quick 7-0 lead. For a time, though, the Tennessee defense held one of the most potent offenses in football in check.

On Tennessee’s first possession Mariota also put his team in the end zone. He completed passes on 3rd and 10, 3rd and 8 and again on 3rd and 8 to keep the drive going and finished with a 10-yard TD run to tie it 7-7. However after that the Oakland defense, thought by most to be the weak link on this club, allowed nothing but field goals to a talented Titans offense.

The Raiders found paydirt again. In the 4th quarter Carr threw a laser to Seth Roberts for a 19-yard touchdown and a 23-13 lead. Tennessee made it a one-score game with a 52-yard field goal from Ryan Succop and then the Raiders relied on their big to salt the game away.

Oakland got the ball back with 4:49 to play and ran the ball eight straight times, six of them with Lynch, earning a pair of first downs and making the Titans use all of their time outs to set up Tavecchio’s final field goal of the day that put it away.

The Raiders open the season 1-0 and play their home opener against the Jets next week. The Titans hit the road to play the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

Contact Us