When Marshawn Lynch ended his retirement to join the Raiders this offseason, many questioned whether Lynch would still be effective.
At 31 and after a year away from football, would Lynch still have his explosive, powerful ability as a ball carrier?
After one game, the answer is: absolutely.
From his first carry as a Raider, a 14-yard pickup, to a fourth-quarter run in which he bowled over 305-pound defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, Lynch’s coaches and teammates were impressed by “Beast Mode.”
“We got to see that Marshawn is Marshawn,” Carr told reporters after the game, according to Michael Wagaman of the San Francisco Chronicle. “He’s running through people and he’s going to make it a pain on them to tackle him. You got to earn it if you’re going to tackle him.”
In fact, Lynch was credited with forcing defenders into five missed tackles, according to the analytic website Pro Football Focus.
Lynch had 18 carries Sunday for 76 yards and a 4.2 yards-per-carry average. He also had one catch for 16 yards.
Lynch acted as a de facto closer for the Raiders on Sunday. With Oakland holding a lead, the Raiders gave the ball to Lynch 10 times in the fourth quarter to run out the clock and help set up a final, victory-clinching field goal by Giorgio Tavecchio. The Raiders held the ball more than 10 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter, denying the Titans the chance to battle back.
“Having (Lynch) in there with his physicality behind our offensive line, that was a good way to get after people to close it,” said head coach Jack Del Rio, according to Curtis Pashelka of the Bay Area News Group.
Del Rio told the media the Raiders aren’t expecting Lynch to carry the entire team. With Carr, a pair of other good running backs in Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington and a good receiving corps, Oakland has multiple offensive weapons. But Lynch can be a key part of the offense as he showed in the season-opening victory over Tennessee.
“Certainly it’s nice to see that he brings that hammer at the end of a ball game, the ability to close out,” said Del Rio.
Raiders fans will get to watch Lynch up close Sunday when the team has its home opener against the Jets. Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m.