NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Oakland Raiders are giving up yards like this franchise has never done before, leaving plenty for coach Jack Del Rio to clean up.
Making corrections is so much easier, though, with the Raiders 2-1.
Oakland beat Tennessee 17-10 Sunday despite allowing the Titans to roll up 393 yards total offense, with the Raiders allowing 1,428 yards through three games. That tops the 1,330 yards allowed by the 1961 Raiders and ranks eighth-worst in NFL history since at least 1940 through three games, according to Pro Football Reference.
Yet, Oakland stripped Marcus Mariota of a fumble and intercepted two passes. The Raiders also sacked the Titans quarterback.
Better yet, the Raiders drew two crucial penalties on Tennessee’s final drive and clinched the victory when cornerback TJ Carrie harassed Titans receiver Harry Douglas enough to keep him from catching Mariota’s pass in the end zone.
Del Rio said he saw glimpses Sunday of what his defense should look like.
“It’s nowhere near what it should be yet, but there’s certainly reasons to be optimistic, which I am,” Del Rio said. “I’m very optimistic about the men we have and the work we’re putting in. We’ve got a lot of things to clean up, but we’re 2-1.”
Del Rio made some changes Sunday to his starting lineup, putting in rookie safety Karl Joseph and rookie linebacker Cory James. Joseph, the No. 14 pick overall out of West Virginia, led the Raiders with 10 tackles, while James tied for second with six tackles himself.
“Hey, Karl was coming up hitting,” Raiders cornerback Sean Smith said. “I was surprised being so small that he was throwing his body in there at those big backs they’ve got. I think he came in, he played fast, he was loud, made all his calls. I was happy for him.”
Still, the Titans came in averaging 339.5 yards offense through the first two games and had their best production this season. The Raiders also gave up 10 plays of at least 14 yards or longer.
For all the tackles and big plays by Oakland’s defense, the Raiders still allowed DeMarco Murray to run for 114 yards on 16 carries — 7.1 yards per carry. Derrick Henry ran 10 times for 45 yards himself. Mariota threw for 95 of his 214 yards on the final drive and appeared to have tied it with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson with 22 seconds left.
But officials flagged Johnson for offensive pass interference because Carrie went down after the wide receiver, with more catches and yards receiving than any other active player in the NFL, stiff-armed him near the goal line. That was after an unnecessary roughness penalty on Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan pushed Tennessee back from the Oakland 3.
Carrie helped clinch the victory when he defended Douglas so closely that the Titans receiver was falling as the ball went harmlessly out of bounds. Carrie said he had excellent coverage on the play inside and was able to slip under Douglas.
“I was not looking for a flag at all,” Carrie said. “I was ready to look for excitement and get up and know that we just won the game.”
In the end, that’s all that matters for Oakland.
“To make a play in that point in time was big for us, so it was dope,” Smith said.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker