NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Derek Carr showed the advantage of having a year of experience and a better supporting cast in a season opener pitting two of the NFL’s rising, young quarterbacks.
Carr threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns, and Oakland beat Tennessee 26-16 to give Carr his third straight win over Marcus Mariota and his Titans in as many years.
“It was fun to be back out,” Carr said.
Amari Cooper caught a TD pass as the Raiders made the Titans pay for opening the season with an onside kick they couldn’t recover.
Marshawn Lynch also looked very refreshed after his year away from football. Lynch finished with 18 carries for 76 yards — 10 in the fourth quarter.
“We’re one for one with that,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said of using Lynch late. “And that’s the idea to be able to close these things, and we did that very well.”
Giorgio Tavecchio kicked field goals of 20, 52, 52 and 43 yards in his NFL debut. He was signed Friday to fill in for the Raiders’ all-time leading scorer and 18-year veteran Sebastian Janikowski, who’s on injured reserve with a bad back.
Both Carr and Mariota broke their right leg hours apart on Christmas Eve for season-ending injuries. Carr finished his third season by tying Ezekiel Elliott of Dallas for third in voting for the AP MVP award after leading Oakland to a 12-4 season, while Mariota led the Titans to a 9-7 mark in just his second season.
Mariota looked healthy in running for a 10-yard TD and threw for 256 yards.
While Mariota was healthy for training camp, the Titans’ top offseason additions of rookie wide receiver Corey Davis and veteran Eric Decker weren’t. The Titans had to settle for a pair of Ryan Succop field goals after driving inside the Oakland 10.
“When you play against a good team like Oakland, you have to hit on all cylinders, and unfortunately we didn’t make enough plays,” Mariota said.
The Titans became the first team since 2009 to open a season with an onside kick. The Minnesota Vikings were the previous, and they also didn’t recover the kick. Ryan Succop’s kick went to Shalom Luani. Carr completed three passes, Lynch rumbled 14 yards on his first carry, and Cooper finished the drive with an 8-yard TD catch for a quick 7-0 lead .
Titans coach Mike Mularkey defended his decision to open with an onside kick, saying he wanted the ball for his offense. No, he didn’t second-guess himself. “Not for a second,” Mularkey said.
Lynch took the first carry of the game for Oakland and rumbled right over Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey on the Raiders’ final scoring drive on one of his six rushes to set up the clinching field goal.
Lynch accidentally interrupted Del Rio’s postgame interview and told a team official he had been available for three minutes. “They didn’t holler at me. I’m good right?” Lynch said to laughter before closing the door and leaving.
After Lynch picked up a first down on fourth-and-1 inside the Titans 5, the Raiders didn’t give him the ball again with Carr throwing three straight passes to Cooper.
The wide receiver dropped the first, Titans rookie Adoree Jackson got a hand in breaking up the second and Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo got his right fingers on the third that Cooper couldn’t pull in at the back of the end zone.
Carr complimented Jackson’s play while also blaming himself for not making better throws. “I’m completely fine with saying I screwed up,” Carr said.
“I did a couple times. It always happens in a Week 1, but when you win you can sit back and realize that we could’ve had so much more.”
The Raiders led the NFL in 2016 in the fewest sacks allowed and went 10 games allowing one sack or fewer. The Titans sacked Carr on back-to-back plays early in the second quarter with Wesley Woodyard, then Derrick Morgan taking the quarterback down. Tennessee didn’t get to Carr again.
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