Rookie Kicker Emerges As Unlikely Hero In Raiders Opening Win

OAKLAND (CBS SF) — There were the obvious story lines heading in the Oakland Raiders NFL regular season-opener against the Tennessee Titans.

There was the return of quarterback Derek Carr from last year’s season-ending broken leg. If that wasn’t enough, you had Oakland native Marshawn Lynch playing his first game for his hometown team after coming out of retirement.

But on Sunday, the obvious gave way to the unexpected.

A practice-squad journeyman kicker by the name of Giorgio Tavecchio, who grew up in the East Bay and played at Cal, was quickly added to the roster when 18-year veteran Sebastian Janikowski was placed on injured reserve with a bad back.

It would seemed to have been an area of concern for head coach Jack Del Rio heading into the game. But Tavecchio booted those doubts away by hitting on a pair of 52-yard field goals and two others of 20 and 43 yards.

“An outstanding performance by our kicker Giorgio,” Del Rio said. “That was pretty special … I’m proud of him.”

For Tavecchio part, the last week has been a dream come true after struggling to make an NFL roster for several seasons.

“What a last week it has been,” he told KPIX 5. “After the highs and the lows. You dream about these moments and then they come true. You feel like all is lost and then God just kind of works it out and gives you the opportunity. You prepare all those years for the opportunity. I’m just so grateful I got to be a part of it.”

Tavecchio admitted he did not sleep much Saturday night.

“There was no waking up this morning,” he said. “There was no sleep last night.”

Tavecchio said there were butterflies in his stomach when he kicked the first 52-yarder and they never went away.

“I’d rather not say — there are some Italian cuss words aren’t good for the TV,” he said of what was racing through his mind. “You just try to focus on your breathing, stay relaxed and be in the moment.”

“I wanted to stay in the moment and embrace it this weekend. Embrace the butterflies. It is a special moment.”

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