JOE BIDDLE: Titans fall in home opener to Raiders

(AP Photo/James Kenney)

Titans Coach Mike Mularkey gift-wrapped the reason for his team’s 26-16 loss to the visiting Oakland Raiders.

“If you want to blame anybody, blame the coaches,’’ Mularkey said in his post-game presser when asked about the play calling, on leaving time on the clock in the first half and leaving other opportunities.

Thanks, coach.

Your decision to open the game with an onside kick turned out to be a bonehead call.

“Well, they got it,’’ Mularkey said. “I’m not going into the who or why, that’s none of your business.’’

The Raiders promptly drove 50 yards for a touchdown. Even though the Titans answered with a touchdown on a Marcus Mariota 10-yard run, the tone had been set.

“It was a great feeling and it was a great boost for the team,” said Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper on getting the Titans onside kick. “It gave us the energy we needed on offense.’’

Oh, the Titans had their chances but after the Raiders took a 13-10 lead, they never relinquished the lead and the Raiders went on to outscore the Titans 10-3 in the deciding fourth quarter.

Granted, the Raiders and their faithful following Raider Nation never lack confidence. They are brash and bold in everything they do.

To win games this season, the Titans have to score touchdowns instead of relying on Ryan Succop to win games with field goals. He nailed three of four field goals Sunday, the last one from 52 yards with 4:49 left and trailing, 23-13.

The failure to score only one touchdown in the game cost the Titans dearly.

Yes, the Titans are young in certain positions, as Mularkey pointed out, but there is not much time to grow old in the NFL.

“We just got to score points. We can’t settle for three points down there in the red zone when we’re that close,’’ said Titans running back DeMarco Murray after the game.

The Titans were one for three in the red zone, while the Raiders were two for three. It matters when you are outscored 10-3 in the fourth quarter. You are going to lose most games like that, especially when you were trailing by only three points after three quarters.

“We’ve got to lock in down there, especially in the red zone and make sure we come out with six points,’’ Murray said.

“We have to finish drives. It’s as simple as that,’’ said Titans offensive tackle Taylor Lewan.

The Titans defense didn’t have its best day at the park.

There were too many missed tackles on veteran Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch. He gained 76 yards on 18 carries with a long run of 14 yards. Beast Mode was hard to handle.

The Titans defense also gave up two touchdown passes from Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.

All in all it was a bad day at the office.

Joe Biddle is a sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at