In a battle of rising stars that each broke their leg during Week 16 of last season, Oakland’s Derek Carr led his Raiders past Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans, 26-16, in Week 1 of the 2017 campaign. Mariota’s performance on Sunday was encouraging in his home opener from Nashville.
Oakland wasted little time securing their first points of the year. After a failed onside attempt by the Titans on the opening kickoff, Carr and the Raiders drove 50 yards on four plays in just 2:11 off the clock. Carr found receiver Amari Cooper who would not be denied for the opening tally.
The 2014 Heisman Trophy recipient responded immediately. Mariota methodically drove his Titan team 75 yards in 12 plays (5:51) to tie the game, 7-7. He capped the impressive opening drive with a 10-yard untouched run to the end zone.
However, Oakland outscored the Titans 19-9 from that point. Tennessee’s running game stalled from the start. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry combined for just 69 rushing yards on 18 total carries. That was the story of the game.
Mariota actually looked faster than he has in the past. His conditioning certainly paid off, appearing leaner like a wide receiver. Would it be a surprise that he worked so hard with conditioning during his offseason recovery that he actually got faster?
Hawaii’s finest completed 25-of-41 passes for 256 yards. Mariota rushed the rock three times for 26 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked once and finished with a quarterback rating of 74.4 on the day. With the run game stuck in neutral, Oakland’s defense was focused on containing the Titans’ quarterback.
Carr was 22-for-32 with 262 yards and two scores without an interception. Regardless, it was great for the game of football to see two of its young stars back on the field where they belong.
"When you play against a good team like Oakland, you have to hit on all cylinders, and unfortunately we didn't make enough plays.”
Delanie Walker remains the QB’s top target. The All-Pro tight end inhaled seven balls for 76 yards. Nevertheless, rookie Corey Davis could emerge as the No. 1 option down the road. The former Western Michigan product had six grabs for 69 yards.
The Titans have a great opportunity to surprise some people this season. The offense has been revamped to help Mariota evolve as one of the game’s elite talents.
These two could see each other down the road in the playoffs.
Some are projecting a major step forward for the Oregon legend in ‘17. That MVP award is just around the corner, but it will take some time for the Titans to find their offensive rhythm. We all know how good they can be, as Tennessee was peaking last season at the time of Mariota’s horrific injury.
Regardless, Marcus is not focused on anything but his next test. That will arrive during Week 2 against an upstart Jacksonville Jaguar (1-0) defense that hounded the Houston Texans 29-7 with 10 sacks and a score on Sunday. Kickoff is slated for 10:00 a.m. PT on Sunday from Florida, but that could change (Irma). We’ll have the complete recap!