Raiders' defense bends again but does not break in victory at Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After two figurative meltdowns in the first two weeks of the season, the Oakland Raiders were in danger of a literal meltdown Sunday in Music City.

Temperatures and humidity in the 90s.

The Raiders in their black jerseys facing the sun on their sideline.

Oakland facing a much-improved Tennessee Titans offense after giving up more than 1,000 yards of offense combined to the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons in Weeks 1 and 2.

Sure, the Raiders bent and bent and bent some more, but takeaways and stops at crucial times were more than enough as Oakland held on for a 17-10 victory Sunday at Nissan Stadium.

The Raiders improved to 2-1, while the Titans fell to 1-2. Oakland will travel to face the 3-0 Baltimore Ravens next Sunday.

"I saw glimpses of what it should look like," Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said of his defense. "I think we all did. Nowhere near what it needs to be yet but certainly reasons to be optimistic.

"The men we have, the work we're putting in, we've got a lot of things to clean up, but we're sitting here 2-1 and looking forward to the rest of this season and the challenges ahead...we did enough to get the win."

The Raiders did allow a 59-yard drive on 10 plays in the first series of the game against the Titans, which ended with a 34-yard field goal by Ryan Succop, but Oakland settled down after that in the first half.

Tennessee mustered only 152 yards of offense, and the Raiders limited the Titans to 1-of-7 on third-down conversions in the first half.

Oakland also broke in a pair of rookie defensive starters in strong safety Karl Joseph, the team’s first-round draft pick, and middle linebacker Cory James, who was taken in the sixth round.

"It felt good," said Joseph, who had a game-high 10 tackles. "The game started slowing down as the series went on but it felt like we did a great job. We were locked in all week and it showed."

Free safety Reggie Nelson had a fumble recovery -- Bruce Irvin stripped Marcus Mariota on a run -- and an interception of Mariota, while Sean Smith also intercepted Mariota to give the Raiders three takeaways.

"I'm not going to sit here and say that we're where we need to be but today we definitely were on the same page out there," Smith said. "We were communicating a whole lot better and not making the small mistakes that we were in previous weeks."

Still, things were in doubt late in the fourth quarter when the Titans got the to 3-yard line, but an unsportsmanlike penalty on Tennessee offensive lineman Taylor Lewan for launching himself into the pile pushed the ball back 15 yards.

Then, Andre Johnson’s 18-yard touchdown reception was nullified because of offensive pass interference.

And on fourth-and-4 at the 12-yard line, TJ Carrie broke up Mariota’s pass to Harry Douglas in the end zone, though the Titans wanted pass interference called.

So was Carrie surprised, pleasantly or otherwise, that no flag was thrown on him?

"No I'm not," Carrie said. "I'm not. I think I played with excellent coverage. I think I was really able to get in there and slip under him and defend the ball at a high level, a high rate. That's something the coaches harp on...leverage and understanding the point of attack and always playing at the top of the ball."