Oakland, Calif. — Once Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams offense got started after sitting out the entire preseason, they couldn't be stopped.
Goff threw two touchdown passes, newcomer Marcus Peters returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown and the Rams used a dominant second half to spoil coach Jon Gruden's much-anticipated return to the Oakland sideline by beating the Raiders 33-13 on Monday night.
"There was a little bit of feeling it out, seeing what they're going to do, seeing what their scheme is," Goff said. "I thought our defense did a great job of responding as well as our offense. I still don't think we played up to our standards in the first half. Think the second half, we came out and we did."
Goff and the rest of the offensive starters for the Rams (1-0) didn't play at all in the preseason, and many of the top defensive players also got little time on the field in the exhibition games.
That might have contributed to the shaky start. The Raiders (0-1) moved the ball relatively easily and the Rams struggled to finish drives. But Los Angeles flipped the script in the second half, outscoring Oakland 23-0 and showing why this team is considered one of the favorites in the NFC after last year's breakthrough season that ended with a division title.
"I think for us to be able to go through a little bit of adversity and have to come back from behind going into the half, that was a good test of your resolve as a football team," coach Sean McVay said. "It was certainly a good job by those guys and I thought the offense responded."
Gruden had his first game as coach of the Raiders (0-1) since the end of the 2001 season. He was traded to Tampa Bay after that season and beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl the following year. He has been announcing for ESPN for the past nine seasons before Oakland owner Mark Davis finally lured him back to the delight of Raiders fans.
But there were only boos by the end of the night after Peters iced the game with his touchdown return on Derek Carr's third interception of the game.
"It was a tale of two halves," Gruden said. "Obviously we did not take care of the ball and that was a critical part of that football game."
Peters punctuated that with a celebratory dive into the end zone reminiscent of his close friend Marshawn Lynch.
"I did the Beast Mode," Peters said. "That's what I did."
Gruden's second stint started well with the Raiders taking the opening kick and driving 75 yards for a touchdown on a 10-yard run by Lynch. The Rams had Lynch stood up at the 3, but he powered his way into the end zone with help from a push by his offensive linemen.
Oakland managed just six points the rest of the way against a defense fortified by the offseason additions of former All-Pros Peters, Aqib Talib and Ndamukong Suh.
Carr threw an interception in the end zone to John Johnson in the second quarter and another in the fourth when he tried to pull back a pass at the last minute only to have the ball slip out and float right to linebacker Cory Littleton
"It was one of the dumbest plays you could have," Carr said. "I knew what I should have done as soon as that play was over."
The Rams matched the early score when Todd Gurley took a flip from Goff and raced 19 yards to the end zone . They took control in the second half.
Los Angeles tied it at 13 on a field goal by Greg Zuerlein on the opening drive of the third quarter and then took the lead for good on a 58-yard, four-play drive that featured two passes downfield to another offseason addition, Brandin Cooks, and then the 8-yard TD to Cooper Kupp.
Gruden's defeat dropped the league's new head coaches to 0-7 in Week 1.
Cautious on Rodgers
Packers coach Mike McCarthy needs more information on the extent of Aaron Rodgers’ knee injury to determine the quarterback’s availability for next week’s game against Minnesota.
Rodgers was sore when the team returned to Lambeau Field on Monday, McCarthy said. The Packers reviewed the thrilling, 24-23 win on Sunday night over the Chicago Bears, in which Rodgers threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter after returning from an injury.
The Packers return to the practice field on Wednesday, when the first injury report for Week 2 is due.
“We do have some information and no decision has been made. We’re still collecting all the information,” said McCarthy, who added he did not think it would take the whole week to determine Rodgers’ availability.
He did allow for a new morsel of information about the two-time NFL MVP. It was a short turnaround for everyone on the team after an emotional late-night victory.
“I don’t think anybody’s feeling great right now … But yeah (Rodgers) is sore. He’s walking around in a pair of shorts and tennis shoes and socks if that helps you with your story,” McCarthy joked. “I mean I don’t know what else to tell you.”
Rodgers left in the second quarter against the Bears on a cart after slipping to the turf during a sack and reaching back for the back of his left leg. Rodgers had ACL surgery on his left knee in college.
But he was cleared to return at halftime and came back out for the Packers’ first series of the third quarter.
Operating a no-huddle offense, but staying primarily in the pocket, Rodgers engineered a comeback from a 20-0 deficit early in the third quarter.
It was the first time in franchise history that the Packers won after trailing by 17 or more entering the fourth quarter, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“It was going to have to take something really catastrophic injury-wise to keep me off the field in the second half,” Rodgers said after the game.
The Packers had to make a similar adjustment late in the 2014 season, when Rodgers was hobbled by a calf injury.
“But he seemed like he moved a little more than I remember back in ’14,” left tackle David Bakhtiari said.
Rodgers said he would undergo more tests on Monday, but that he was planning to play next week against the Vikings.
“No, I plan on playing,” he said.
Bears coach Matt Nagy refuses to dwell on the second-half collapse by his team.
It’s not easy, considering the Bears blew a 20-point lead in Nagy’s head coaching debut. They’ll take it as a lesson learned.
“It stings, but we need to use this,” Nagy said after reviewing film. “We need to go ahead and use this to get better.
“If you have the negative, pessimistic approach to it, then that’s all wrong.”
The loss bore a striking resemblance to the way Nagy’s season ended last year as Kansas City’s offensive coordinator — a 22-21 playoff loss to Tennessee after the Chiefs led 21-3.
The Bears offense and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky struggled at some key points in the game with chances to lock up a win.
“We’re close,” Trubisky said after the game. “We know how close we are.”
Titans coach Mike Vrabel believes Dolphins defensive end Andre Branch intentionally targeted Tennessee left tackle Taylor Lewan (Michigan) during an interception return Sunday, but stopped short of calling Branch’s blind-side hit dirty.
The collision, which happened right in front of the Titans bench and set off a brawl between the teams, left Lewan motionless on the ground for a few moments before he jumped up and starting running erratically.
He suffered a concussion on the play, the Titans later announced, and did not return to the game.
A day later, Vrabel was asked by a Nashville reporter about the hit, as well as footage from the game in which Branch appeared to shout “body bag” as Lewan walked to the locker room with the help of medical personnel.
“This game, it’s a vicious game,” said Vrabel, a linebacker who played 14 years in the NFL before transitioning into coaching. “
It’s played by different types of people. They’re not normal people. They’re professional football players. Do I think it was dirty? Probably not. Do I think it was targeted at Taylor? I would say absolutely.”
When asked about possible retaliation by his team for the hit, Vrabel responded: “If we get another chance at it … That’s the Dolphins. We’ll worry about the Titans.”
NFL Week 2
Baltimore at Cincinnati, 8:20
Philadelphia at Tampa Bay, 1
Houston at Tennessee, 1
Indianapolis at Washington, 1
Minnesota at Green Bay, 1
Cleveland at New Orleans, 1
Kansas City at Pittsburgh, 1
Miami at N.Y. Jets, 1
Carolina at Atlanta, 1
L.A. Chargers at Buffalo, 1
Detroit at San Francisco, 4:05
Arizona at L.A. Rams, 4:05
Oakland at Denver, 4:25
New England at Jacksonville, 4:25
N.Y. Giants at Dallas, 8:20
Seattle at Chicago, 8:15