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K Tavecchio puts best foot (left) forward for Raiders

(TSX / STATS) -- ALAMEDA, Calif. -- So, who was the big star of the Oakland Raiders' season-opening win at Tennessee?

Derek Carr? Marshawn Lynch? Michael Crabtree or Amari Cooper?

They weren't bad, but the answer is Giorgio Tavecchio, of course.

Subbing for the injured Sebastian Janikowski, Tavecchio converted field-goal attempts of 20, 52, 52 and finally 43 yards without a miss in Sunday's 26-16 win over the Tennessee Titans in Nashville.

It was the first time a kicker has converted two 50-plus-yard field goals in his NFL debut.

Tavecchio was released at the cutdown to 53 players for the fourth straight time by the Raiders and also has also been cut by the 49ers and Detroit Lions before finally getting a shot because of Janikowski's aching back.

"I've been dreaming about this moment for a very long time," Tavecchio said. "I am feeling gratitude, catharsis. You spend so much time waiting, hoping, imagining, dreaming, and then when it happens, it's not necessarily anti-climactic, but you can't get too caught up in the moment and what it means to you."

With Janikowski's back an issue going into game week, Tavecchio was told to stay ready even as the Raiders tried out three kickers with NFL experience on Monday -- Josh Lambo, Mike Nugent and Marshall Koehn.

As a backdrop, the Raiders and Janikowski were reportedly involved in a contract matter, with the club wanting the 17-year veteran to reduce his salary from $4.05 million to $3 million.

Janikowski eventually agreed, but Tavecchio was signed to the practice squad Friday -- a hint something was up -- and went on the trip to Tennessee.

On Saturday, Tavecchio was activated and put on the 53-man roster. Janikowski, whose condition apparently deteriorated, went on injured reserve, where he will be for at least eight weeks.

So Tavecchio stepped up in the biggest way possible.

"That is kind of what we're looking to get, put our guys in a position to succeed and have them come through," head coach Jack Del Rio said. "You have to give the young man a lot of credit. I am very proud of him."

Tavecchio got the job over a more experienced kicker in large part because like Janikowski, he is left-footed and has worked with holder Marquette King.

All three kickers brought in for the tryout were right-footed.

During the exhibition season, Tavecchio missed both a short-range field goal and an extra-point attempt.

His performance against Tennessee ensures Tavecchio will keep the job through the next game against the New York Jets and into the foreseeable future if he continues to be accurate.

"You can imagine it was a crazy week with all the highs and lows," Tavecchio said. "I am just grateful I got the chance to contribute. I'm Italian, so I live it very fully. This was a great week of life for me."

--Quarterback Derek Carr and first-year offensive coordinator Todd Downing seemed in synch throughout and there were no issues getting plays in on time.

"I thought he handled himself beautifully," head coach Jack Del Rio said. "I thought Todd did a great job. He matched up against (Tennessee defensive coordinator) Dick LeBeau in his first game. Dick LeBeau's got a few skins on the wall." In fact, LeBeau celebrated his 80th birthday the day before the game.

--Running back Marshawn Lynch had 18 carries for 76 yards and looked to have both burst and the tackle-breaking skill that made him a star in Seattle.

"When you have a back like Marshawn Lynch -- you'd better be sure you want to tackle him before you go in there," head coach Jack Del Rio said. "I think you saw a couple of great examples of what we were hoping to get today."

Lynch had a 6-yard run late in the game where he ran over Jurell Casey, a 305-pound defensive tackle.

"Man, he's such a beast," wide receiver Amari Cooper said. "You saw that play where he ran a guy over. Probably five times bigger than he is. That gets everybody hyped."

Said Carr: "He's running through people. He's going to make it a pain on them to tackle him. You've got to earn it if you're going to tackle him."

--Safety Karl Joseph led the Raiders in tackles with nine and had a big breakup in the end zone of a second-and-goal pass from Marcus Mariota to Eric Decker.

The Raiders gave up three third-down conversions on Tennessee's opening drive for a touchdown, but tightened up considerably afterward, giving only three field goals the rest of the way.

"When people say the offense is good but they have no defense, that doesn't sit well with me and I think a lot of the other guys feel the same way," Joseph said.

NOTES: WR Seth Roberts had one reception -- a 19-yard touchdown from Derek Carr -- and the Raiders are 10-0 when he catches a touchdown pass. ... LB Cory James, questionable with a knee injury, played extensively and served as the defensive signal-caller as the weak-side linebacker. ... DL Mario Edwards Jr. had a solid game and recorded half a sack (along with Justin Ellis) when he slid inside and rushed from the interior. ... T Marshall Newhouse started on the right side and was twice spelled by Vadal Alexander for a series. ... LB Tyrell Adams subbed for rookie starter Marquel Lee in the middle on passing downs and finished with seven tackles.

Updated September 11, 2017

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