NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Here's a look at six things that stood out -- good and bad -- from Sunday's loss to the Raiders:
DeMarco Murray continues to prove he has plenty left in his tank. Murray became the first Titans running back since Chris Johnson (final game of the 2013 season) to rush for over 100 yards in a game when he posted 114 yards on just 16 carries against the Raiders. Murray got his yards with some tough running inside, and he also showed speed to get to the corner. He ran through a number of would-be tacklers. And, once again, he led the team in receptions with five.
The Titans have been in close games three weeks in a row now, and I'm counting the Vikings game because it was a two-point game (12-10, Vikings) heading into the fourth quarter. If the Titans are going to win them, they're going to have to cut down on the turnovers, and penalties. Quarterback Marcus Mariota was guilty of three (two interceptions, one fumble) on Sunday, and the Titans committed eight penalties for 70 yards. The Titans can't keep shooting themselves in the foot.
So there's no way to do this list without including Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan. The play at the end – his 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty – stood out. Lewan said he was playing to the whistle, and his head coach and quarterback were among those who publicly backed him. I understand the criticism coming his way as well. Flying into the pile at that point came with more risk than reward. Unfortunately for Lewan, the play overshadowed a really good day for him. Pro Football Focus gave him the team's highest grade on offense, while saying he "made multiple key blocks on the edge and at the second level."
Yes, things were sloppy at times. There were missed tackles, and cornerback Brice McCain took a bad angle that allowed Raiders receiver Seth Roberts to get by him and score on a 19-yard touchdown catch before halftime. But as a whole, the Titans continue to play well on defense. The Raiders, ranked No.1 in offense heading into the contest, didn't score in the second half. QB Derek Carr was just 6-of-13 for 114 yards in the second half after the Titans made adjustments. Once again, it was a winning performance on D.
OK, so this one isn't specific to the Raiders. It's been an issue three weeks in a row. The Titans have scored just six points in the first quarter of three games this season, and a combined 16 in the first half of games. So far, just a pair of Ryan Succop field goals (one came Sunday) in the first quarter. While the Titans have been more productive later in games, they have to find a way to get better out of the starting block.
Tight end Jace Amaro, claimed off waivers on September 4, was inactive the first two weeks of the season. With Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker out, Amaro stepped in and performed well. Yes, the Titans missed Walker, but Amaro caught three passes for a team-high 59 yards, including a 26-yard catch. He also made a nice third-down grab on the team's first possession. His 19.7-yard average per catch was also a team best on Sunday.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Oakland Raiders in Week 3 action at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)