Lynch aids Raiders in win over Titans
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — If you watch the NFL, you know that Marshawn Lynch does not like to do press conferences.
So, when he opened the door to the visitors’ interview room Sunday after the Oakland Raiders’ 26-16 win over the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium and saw head coach Jack Del Rio holding forth, Lynch blurted a profanity, probably out of surprise, as the room erupted in laughter.
The rest of the NFL might want to start cursing at the possibilities Lynch provides an already stacked Oakland offense.
In his first regular-season game since returning from a one-year retirement, the one-time Seattle Seahawk rushed 18 times for a game-high 76 yards. His first rush was a 14-yard gain that looked more like a surge of electricity than a simple run up the middle.
Lynch ran like the guy who keyed Seattle’s offense during its Super Bowl season in 2013. Which is to say he looked like Beast Mode. Which is to say the Raiders might look to be in championship mode.
“You better make sure you want to tackle him because he will bring it,” Del Rio said.
Potentially, Lynch is the last piece to an offense that has the quarterback (Derek Carr), star receiver (Amari Cooper) and depth pieces every team needs. Del Rio craves a physical offensive line and running game. No one loves contact more than Lynch.
Given the many leads the Raiders figure to have late in games this year, Lynch is the perfect back to finish out games. During their next-to-last drive, Lynch carried six times for 18 yards, picking up a critical first down with 2:52 remaining that forced Tennessee to start burning its timeouts.
When rookie kicker Giorgio Tavecchio converted his fourth field goal of the day with 1:09 left, Oakland sealed the verdict, one its newest running back helped obtain.
“He showed me exactly what I expected today,” said backup running back Jalen Richard. “He’s still doing the things he wants to do. He’s well rested and he’s an explosive runner. He can run over people and he can juke them.”
—Lynch was one of the differences in a game where the Raiders demonstrated why they were a playoff team last year and where the Titans showed they might still have some growing to do in order to get there.
Oakland did little things a little better. It was ready for Tennessee’s surprise onside kick to start the game. Shalom Luani covered it at midfield, and Carr had the Raiders in the end zone four plays later on an 8-yard pass to Cooper.
When the Titans tied the game at 10 in the first half’s final minute on a 23-yard field goal by Ryan Succop, Oakland responded with a quick drive. Tavecchio bombed a 52-yard field goal as time expired to give the Raiders a halftime lead.
Oakland controlled most of the second half, taking advantage of Tennessee’s inability to maintain the flow its offense showed during the first half. Its defense went from allowing five of seven third-down conversions in the first half to permitting just two of seven after halftime.
—The Titans were left lamenting missed chances. They twice got inside the Raiders’ 10 but settled for short field goals. Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young once said every field goal a team kicks in a game brings it a step closer to losing, and in Tennessee’s case, that turned out to be correct.
“I thought we moved the ball well, but once we got down there, we got a little stagnant,” Titans running back DeMarco Murray said. “We’ve got to lock in down there and make sure we come out with six points. Execution could have been better offensively.”
—Tennessee will need more from its pass rush if Sunday is any indication. Its rebuilt secondary had trouble, albeit against a talented offense, and Carr was rarely touched other than consecutive second-quarter sacks.
As for the Raiders, their season is off to an encouraging start. The addition of Lynch, and his outing in this game, should only heighten expectations.
“He’s going to help us close out games,” Del Rio said. “He did today. He’s 1-for-1.”
NOTES: Oakland placed K Sebastian Janikowski (back) on injured reserve Saturday and signed Giorgio Tavecchio from the practice squad. He had been added Friday. ... Rookie CB Gareon Conley (shin) was inactive. QB Connor Cook, who lost the backup job to EJ Manuel, was also deactivated. ... Tennessee CB LeShaun Sims (groin) was deactivated, with rookie Adoree’ Jackson getting the start in his place. The Titans also started veteran WR Eric Decker over rookie Corey Davis. ... Tennessee K Ryan Succop has converted 38 consecutive field goals inside 50 yards.