Sloppy start for Raiders


Photo by Dave Boyd Oakland's Jerry Rice

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR STAFF
wholtsclaw@starhq.com
"I don't know why you're waiting for me, I don't have anything to say."
Those were the first words from Oakland wide receiver Jerry Rice after the Raiders' 25-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans during their Sunday night opener.
Being part of a Hall-Of-Fame core including Tim Brown, Rice leads the NFL in every major career statistic at the position in a year where he could become the first receiver to make 200 career touchdown grabs.
He ended the game with only four grabs for 43 yards, and admits there were a lot of things to work on for their next contest against.
"You know, we fell hard, that's all I can say," Rice said. "It didn't click, it just wasn't happening. The noise was loud, but prepared ourselves all week long. We had practice in the noise, so that's not an excuse."
"Guys, they've got to focus and overcome that. You can't make an excuse for jumping offsides or anything like that. I'm not pointing any fingers, but I think everybody can just be a little more detailed and not make mistakes and just focus. If everybody just focused on themselves, we could correct them."
Oakland had 173 yards in total penalties against the Titans. According to Rice, it's something the team must work on.
"I think it hurt our vets, when you make a play and have a penalty and keep making those mistakes," he added. "It's going to end up costing you big time. We had our chance to win. It's just mistakes, mistakes are killing us right now."
"I guess whenever you lose the ball game, it's kind of hard to watch," he continued. "But being on top of that, when you lose, you don't play well. That leaves a bad taste in your mouth, so somehow you've got to fight through it and try to regroup. So I'm going to go back and look at the film and try to be critical of myself and see some of the things I did wrong and basically try not to make those mistakes anymore."
Rice compared the game to a nightmare.
"It was a wild night tonight, it's just a wild night," the former San Francisco 49er added. "It's almost like being in a bad dream, it was a nightmare. But that nightmare's over now, so we've got to go out and get ready for the next one."
TITANS PUNTER SHINES AS KICKER
When Titans kicker Joe Nedney went down in the second quarter, the team's punter Craig Hentrich was forced to step up and make some big plays.
"What can you say about our kicker? Our punter-kicker now. When you are aksed to do a job, and you have to change gears, it is tough," said Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher. "For him to go three-for-three tonight, it sais an awful lot about Craig. When we re-signed him this offseason, that was a huge move for us."
He came through three times, including a clutch 33-yarder with 32 seconds left in the game.
"I felt fine," Hentrich said after the game. "I kicked four years in college (at Notre Dame), so it's not like I've never done it before."
"I was doing what I do," he added. "I didn't win the game, it helped win the game. Steve McNair, I'm glad he's on my team, he's something else. The defense stepped up when they had to and held the offense. Everyone played well tonight."
It was announced today that Nedney would require surgery that will end his season. The Titans will be searching for a replacement, but will be unable to sign a proven veteren with such small room under the salary cap.
PLAYERS REFLECT ON HOME CROWD
Defensively, the Tennessee Titans looked sharp against the Radiers. But you must give credit to the 12th man -- the crowd at The Coliseum.
"They were just loud the whole game," said Titans defensive end Kevin Carter. "They've got guys jumping offsides and guys looking at us. Getting (Oakland) here was a big deal. Who knows what'll happen down the road, but this was a good start for us."
Said Fisher: "I think tonight's game shows you how valuable home field is. The beginning of the game would have been very different if we hadn't been at home. The fans made it very difficult to hear and you can't say enough about our fans."
The Titans ranked 10th in total defense in the NFL last season, but they are out with a purpose this year.
"I think we're starting to get the message going," said Jevon Kearse, who rattled Raider quarterback Rich Gannon in the game. "But we've got to get it ready every week. It was big time, we had a really good game plan. We've been working on it for months, since training camp. So if we continue to play like this, we should go real, real far."
The crowd wasn't that big of a factor when the Titans were on offense according to former Heisman Trophy winner and Oakland cornerback Charles Woodson.
"They didn't effect us much. Probably the offense, you'd have to ask them that. The crowd is much louder when they are on the field," the former Michigan Wolverine said. "We had our chance. Even though we kind of hurt ourselves with a lot of the penalties, we had a chance to win that game. They held up longer than we did and they got the 'W.'"
MASON COMES THROUGH IN CLUTCH
After a solid pre-season, Titans receiver Derrick Mason pulled through in the clutch yet again.
As the squad's top receiver, he gained 99 yards on 10 grabs with a crucial touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.
"It's always good when you can start off with a win, especially against Oakland because they are a very talented team, and if you get a chance to beat them, you better," Mason said. "They're capable of scoring any and every time. You've got to tip your hat to the defense because they did an exceptional job at stopping them."
Mason was matched up against Woodson in the game, drawing a big pass interference penalty to set up the final field goal in the fourth quarter.
"Once you're in a game, you don't think about who's in front of you," he added. "You try to catch a pass and get open for your quarterback. That was the deal today."
The Titans travel this week for their first of two big AFC South meetings against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.