NASHVILLE, Tenn. — To Derek Carr, it’s time for all the critics to stop picking on the Oakland Raiders defense.
Carr threw for 249 yards and a touchdown, and the Raiders beat the Tennessee Titans 17-10 on Sunday with their defense finally coming up with some big plays.
“They won the game for us,” Carr said. “That right there was a prime example of what I’ve seen every day in practice. That’s why I kept saying what I was saying. It’s hard to complete balls against them.”
The Raiders (2-1) forced three turnovers and had a sack after coming into this game having given up more yards than any team since at least 1940 through the first two games. Coach Jack Del made a couple of lineup changes, starting linebacker Cory James and rookie safety Karl Joseph, their top draft pick.
Oakland took control in the second quarter, scoring 10 points and outgaining the Titans 129-40 to take a 17-3 lead into halftime.
The Titans (1-2) rallied from a 15-3 deficit a week ago in beating Detroit 16-15 , and they thought they at least had forced overtime when Marcus Mariota found Andre Johnson alone in the end zone for a touchdown. But officials flagged Johnson for interference on Raiders cornerback TJ Carrie.
“If he wouldn’t have fell down, it wouldn’t have been called,” Johnson said.
Two plays later, Carrie appeared to grab Harry Douglas in the end zone on the Titans’ final play with no flag thrown. Carr knelt to run out the clock as the Raiders escaped with a win.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey said he needed to watch the tape on some of the plays.
“I need to be careful,” Mularkey said.
LEWAN’S PENALTY: Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan may have had the costliest penalty. He apologized to his teammates for an unnecessary roughness penalty that backed the Titans from the Oakland 3 to the 18 with 50 seconds left.
Tajae Sharpe caught a 19-yard pass and was being tackled when Lewan flew in to clean up the pile. Officials flagged him, costing Tennessee first-and-goal at the 3 with 50 seconds left to first-and-10 at the Raiders 18. Asked about the penalty, Mularkey said Lewan and the Raiders thought the play was still alive.
“Everybody but the officials,” Mularkey said.
MARIOTA’S TURNOVERS: Mariota turned the ball over three times, and the No. 2 pick overall in the 2015 draft now has lost three fumbles with four interceptions already this season. The Raiders turned a fumble forced by Bruce Irvin into a field goal and a 10-3 lead. That was all the points the Raiders got off his mistakes.
NICE OPENING: Latavius Murray didn’t touch the ball on Oakland’s opening drive until he was handed the ball on the final play. Then, he ran 22 yards up the middle for a touchdown to put the Raiders ahead to stay. Carr also tossed a 19-yard TD pass to Seth Roberts late in the second quarter against a Tennessee defense that had allowed only one offensive TD through the first two games.
NFL RECORD: Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski became the NFL’s career leader in field goals made from 50 yards and out when he connected from 52 with 8:13 left in the second quarter. He gave the Raiders a 10-3 lead on the 53rd field goal of 50 or more yards for the 17-year veteran, which broke a tie with Jason Hanson, who had 52 such field goals in 21 NFL seasons. His field goal came after a holding penalty wiped out a TD pass by Carr.
MR. MURRAY: Murray, the NFL’s 2014 offensive player of the year, helped the Titans get back into the game. He reeled off a 36-yard run with the Titans backed up near the own end zone, and he capped a 93-yard drive by outracing a pair of Oakland defenders around the right side to the end zone for a 5-yard TD with 5:51 left in the third quarter. It was Murray’s first TD running the ball this season.
He also ran for 114 yards on 16 carries to become the first running back to reach 100 yards in a game since the 2013 season finale.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker