The Tennessee Titans entered the 2017 season with high expectations and a big challenge on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.
The met neither of them in Sunday’s 26-16 loss at Nissan Stadium.
Oakland’s Derek Carr tested the Titans revamped secondary and put up 262 yards and two touchdowns in leading the Raiders to a win over the Titans in Nashville for the third straight year.
“It’s a gut check for sure. It just lets us know that we still have a long way to go. I don’t think we’re as far off as we were at the start of last year, but at the same time, we’re not as good as we think. We’ve got to keep going back to work and keep grinding and working hard,” Titans safety Kevin Byard said.
Tennessee was in the hole almost from the outset, as a surprise onside kick to start the game backfired and gave the Raiders a short field, who needed only four plays to go 50 yards with Carr hitting Amari Cooper, who bulled his way into the end zone. Titans players were excited about the onside kick call, but said it was just one of many plays that were not made in playing a part to help cost them the game.
More so than that, it as Tennessee’s inability to finish off drives with touchdowns that factored into the loss.
“We talk about ‘protecting the house’ and we didn’t do that today. It is disappointing,” tight end Delanie Walker said.
Other than answering Oakland’s opening march with a tying touchdown drive, a 12-play, 75-yard march that Marcus Mariota finished with a 10-yard TD scamper around left end, the Titans’ points came off the foot of kicker Ryan Succop on Sunday, and that was not good enough.
“In this league, it’s hard to score, and when you sustain drives for as long as we did today, you want to finish with a touchdown and get more points on the board. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that, and it was frustrating,” said Mariota, who ended the day 25 of 41 for 256 yards.
Mariota’s touchdown run was set up by a nice leaping catch from rookie Corey Davis, playing in his first NFL game.
From there, it was a battle of field goals throughout the remainder of the first half with the Raiders getting a 20-yard field goal from Giorgio Tavecchio, his first of four on the day for Oakland.
Tennessee answered with Ryan Succop’s 23-yard kick to tie the game at 10 with just 43 seconds left in the half, only to have Tavecchio end the half with a 52-yard kick to give Oakland a 13-10 halftime edge. The Titans’ drive was 15 plays and 93 yards, but Tennessee had to settle for a field goal when the drive stalled at the 8.
Tavecchio, who replaced an injured Sebastian Janikowski on Oakland’s roster, connected again in the third period to make it 16-10, before Tennessee again got the points back on Succop’s 26-yard kick.
Oakland essentially put the away the game early in the fourth quarter, when Carr directed a seven-play, 74-yard drive to push the Raider lead to 10 at 23-13. He hit Seth Roberts from 19 yards out to cap the march and get the Raiders a two-score lead.
The Titans settled for a field goal from Succop from 52 yards to get within one score again, but Tavecchio’s 43-yarder with 1:09 left put the game in the win column for Oakland and left the Titans searching for answers again.
Despite the loss, linebacker Brian Orakpo said the Titans remain confident.
“We’ll be all right. It’s just one game,” Orakpo said. “We’ll go back to the drawing board as far as getting things fixed and get ready for Jacksonville.”