And it was the perfect start to life in a new home for Josh McDaniels, the new Las Vegas Raiders head coach who joined in January after a long, trophy-laden spell with the New England Patriots.
His Raiders beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-11, spoiling Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson’s first game at the helm.
It was a homecoming victory for McDaniels, a Jacksonville native, returning to the Tom Benson Hall of Fame stadium where he once played for Canton McKinley High School, patrolling the sideline where he watched his father, Thom McDaniels, coach for almost two decades.
“You never know if you’ll get that opportunity again. I really relished it. It was a good opportunity for all of us, and I think we all enjoyed it.”
In a game without most of both teams’ starters – Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and star receiver Davante Adams sat out as the Jaguars released a list of 21 players who wouldn’t play, including quarterback- second-year fullback Trevor Lawrence – it was up to the more marginal players to step in.
And like many pre-season games without the star players, it wasn’t the finest affair.
No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, Travon Walker was called up for a passer roughing penalty against Raiders quarterback Jarrett Stidham on the very first play from scrimmage. Walker, however, showed why he was picked first as he picked up a sack later in the game.
There were opportunities for players to flash, however, as rookie running back Zamir White showed, rushing for 52 yards and adding 23 more through the air.
And it was the Raiders’ rushing offense that really tore the Jaguars defense apart, finishing the game with 159 total rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns; one each from Stidham, Austin Walter and Ameer Abdullah.
Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson was also perfect on the field, adding two field goals and three extra points.
Jaguars running back Nathan Cottrell scored his team’s only touchdown of the night, catching a pass from Kyle Sloter in the end zone.
After the game, Pederson praised his team’s effort which many of his starters lacked.
He added: “We made sure that everyone played in this game. As we go along it will be a bit more the starters and the guys that we think will be on the 53-man list. As things progress.”