The Oakland Raiders woke up Sunday morning expecting to show the NFL world that they were a team to be reckoned with this season. They’ll go to bed Sunday night wondering if they can overcome the train-wreck they appeared to be during their game with the Titans on their NFL season opener.
The Titans scored 24 consecutive points in the first half, after being down 3-0, to go on and beat the Raiders 38-13 at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee. Worse for the Raiders, the game wasn’t as close as the final score would suggest.
Vince Young threw for 154 yards for two touchdowns and rushed for another 30 yards, but he wasn’t the star of the game. That title would arguably go to his backfield mate, Chris Johnson. Johnson rolled up 142 yards on 27 carries (5.3 ypc) and two touchdowns — including a 76-yard score to put the Titans ahead 24-3 in the second quarter.
Another star for the Tennessee Titans may have been their defense. The defensive line hurried and harassed Raiders’ quarterback Jason Campbell the entire day. Campbell was sacked four times and fumbled twice, losing one that almost ended up being returned for the Titans’ second touchdown of the game.
On the day, the Raiders’ offense had one lone bright spot — Darren McFadden. McFadden, getting the nod due to Michael Bush’s broken thumb, made the most of his opportunity and showed the talent the Raiders hoped he’d have when selecting him with the fourth pick of the 2008 draft. McFadden rushed for 95 yards on 18 attempts (5.3 ypc) and caught six passes for 55 yards with a touchdown.
The Raiders offense appeared out of sync most of the day. On their second play from scrimmage, Campbell appeared to draw the Titans’ defenders offsides, but instead of calling for the ball to be snapped, he stood up as if the officials had blown the whistle — they didn’t and instead of getting an offsides call, Campbell was called for delay of game.
The Raiders did strike first in the game. On third and 12 from the Titans’ 43, Vince Young was sacked by Kamerion Wimbley, fumbled, and Richard Seymour recovered the fumble and returned it to the Titans’ 34 yard line. The Raiders’ drive stalled at Tennessee’s 17 when Langston Walker was flagged for a false start on third and eight. The next play, rookie Jared Veldheer sailed the shotgun snap over Campbell’s head, but the quarterback was able to recover and get the ball back to the line of scrimmage. Sebastian Janikowski came on for a 39-yard field goal that missed wide right, but the Titans were called for being offsides. Janikowski made his next effort from 34 yards.
While the Raiders did score on their second drive of the game, it wasn’t a pretty drive. On the first play, Campbell was sacked for a loss of seven yards with six offensive linemen in the game. On the third play, Campbell was sacked again, but the defender sacked him below the knees, resulting in a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty.
Right after the Raiders took a 3-0 lead, the shaky ground the silver and black was on began to crumble. On second and 10 from their own 26, Young attempted a pass to Justin Gage, but instead of going for the interception, Tyvon Branch committed pass interference. On the next play, Branch bit on a double move by Nate Washington, who became the recipient of a 56-yard touchdown pass.
On the Raiders’ next possession, Campbell was sacked on first and 10 from their own 30, resulting in a fumble that the Titans recovered. Mario Henderson allowed the sack and then stood looking up at the stands as the ball rolled inches from his right foot. Tennessee’s Michael Griffin jumped on the ball, was able to get up and run to the end zone without Henderson even moving. Fortunately for the Raiders, a review of the play showed that Griffin’s back touched Henderson’s leg before he got up with the ball.
Damage was still done. Tennessee recovered at the Raiders’ 23, and even though they didn’t move the ball, it was an easy 43-yard field goal for Rob Bironas, extending the lead to 10-3.
Down by seven and showing little on offense, the Raiders’ defense was still able to keep the game from getting out of control. The Titans hadn’t converted a third down in the first quarter, but that streak ended on the Titans’ first drive of the second quarter. The Titans converted a third and one play with an eight-yard run by Johnson, but the drive would end up stalling at the Oakland 46. The unsuccessful drive still lasted 5:46 — one second less than their total possession time in the first quarter.
The Raiders again went three and out, and after a Shane Lechler punt Tennessee started their drive at their own 39 with 7:34 left in the half. Nearly four minutes later, Javon Ringer ran off the left guard for a 15-yard touchdown run and extending the Titans’ lead to 17-3.
The Raiders again went three and out, also allowing another sack on Campbell (who fumbled again), and held onto the ball for just 1:43. After a Shane Lechler 68-yard bomb of a punt, the Titans started their next possession at their own 24. The very first play, Johnson ran nearly the same play as Ringer’s touchdown run and with the same result — a 76-yard touchdown.
Down 24-3 with just 1:37 left in the half, the Raiders’ offense suddenly sprang to life. Campbell marched his team 63 yards to the Titans 12, with 10 seconds left before the break, and Janikowski punched a 30-yard field goal to give the silver and black some hope at half.
After the Titans failed to move the ball on their first possession of the second half, the Raiders picked up where they had left off. Starting from their own 19, the Raiders moved to within field goal range at the Tennessee 35, but the 53-yard field goal attempt was missed by Janikowski.
The Titans then went on a 10 play, 57 yard touchdown drive that lasted 5:10. The drive ended when Johnson easily ran up the middle for a four-yard touchdown with 1:47 left in the third quarter.
Less than a minute later, Campbell was picked off while throwing behind Zach Miller. The interception was returned to the Raiders’ three yard line, and a few plays later, Bo Scaife caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Young with 14:55 to go. The score was then 38-6.
The Raiders followed that up with a touchdown drive of their own, a 12 play, 80 yard drive that resulted with a McFadden seven-yard touchdown grab.
The Raiders (0-1) will come home next Sunday to face the St. Louis Rams.