BY JOSH DUBOW
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Derek Carr, Marshawn Lynch and the rest of Oakland’s first-team offense looked sharp in their first action of the preseason. The starting defense once again was plagued by the same issues that doomed the Raiders last year.
Carr threw two touchdown passes in his first game since breaking his leg last season but Jared Goff led three scoring drives for the Los Angeles Rams in a 24-21 exhibition victory Saturday night.
“Overall I thought the defense was poor, particularly early,” coach Jack Del Rio said. “We’ll have to get a whole lot better there.”
Lynch returned to the field for the first time since retiring following the 2015 season and once again declined to stand for the national anthem. He delighted the hometown crowd in Oakland when he burst through the line for a 6-yard run on his first carry and added another 4-yard run before calling it a night.
“It was awesome,” Carr said. “It was really loud, I’m not going to lie. It was really loud. That was good for the home crowd to see. Honestly, it’s good to be home again,”
Lynch said he decided to come out of retirement after the Raiders announced plans in March to move to Las Vegas for the 2020 season. Lynch wanted to give something back to his hometown fans in Oakland.
While some fans in Oakland have expressed bitterness, the Raiders are sold out for the entire season despite being lame ducks and drew a sellout crowd of 53,659 for their first home game of the preseason.
The most outward anger from the fans came when Goff led the Rams on a 88-yard drive to open the game, capped by a 23-yard TD pass to Cooper Kupp . Goff, who struggled as a rookie after being drafted first overall last season out of California, played extremely well in his return to the East Bay.
“We started the way we wanted to start and we were aggressive offensively,” Goff said. “We were able to score on those two early drives and did what we wanted to out there.”
Goff finished 16 for 20 for 160 yards, leading another TD drive that was capped by Todd Gurley’s 2-yard run and a field goal drive late in the first half.
Carr, who broke his leg on this same field during a Christmas Eve win over Indianapolis, played his first game of the preseason and looked in midseason form with the exception of one miscommunication with Michael Crabtree that led to an interception by Trumaine Johnson.
Carr capped the first drive with a perfectly placed 19-yard touchdown pass to tight end Lee Smith and ended his night with a 13-yard score to Crabtree , who juked Troy Hill on his way into the end zone.
COMEBACK WIN: After Oakland’s Connor Cook led a go-ahead drive capped by a 17-yard pass to Johnny Holton with 6:30 to play, Sean Mannion answered for Los Angeles and threw a game-winning 20-yard pass to Josh Reynolds with 1:11 remaining.
ANTHEM DOINGS: Raiders rookie Shalom Luani also kneeled down during the start of the anthem but said he was just finishing a prayer and not protesting. Los Angeles linebacker Robert Quinn raised his fist, while Carr put his hand on teammate Khalil Mack’s back in a sign of unity.
“To show (that) different races can get along, white, black, whatever you are, get along and be friends and.just show unity,” Mack said. “Show togetherness.”
WHERE’S WATKINS: Sammy Watkins got his first action for Los Angeles since being acquired in a trade with Buffalo this preseason. Watkins converted a third down on his first catch and added one more reception. Watkins nearly had a TD grab but could not come down with a deep pass from Goff with Sean Smith in tight coverage.
“He can make plays,” Goff said. “He’s only been here a week so we’re still getting our rhythm together.”
MACK ATTACK: Mack, last year’s AP Defensive Player of the Year, also got his first action of the preseason for the Raiders and delivered one sack, three quarterback pressures and two tackles for loss in three series.
STEPPING UP: Rookie receiver Cooper Kupp is showing he’s more than capable of making the transition from FCS to the NFL. Kupp, who set FCS records at Eastern Washington with 428 catches for 6,464 yards and 73 TDs, caught six passes for 70 yards and a TD while playing with the starters.
SMITH STARTS: Raiders cornerback Sean Smith started two days after being charged with beating his sister’s boyfriend last month. Prosecutors say Smith beat his sister’s boyfriend and then stomped on the man’s head in Pasadena on July 4. Smith is scheduled to be arraigned next month on assault and battery charges.
“We’ll let him battle legally what issues he has,” Del Rio said. “He was defending his sister. Obviously things occurred that were taken issue with so he’s having to defend himself right now.”
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