Oakland: Jon Gruden jawed at the officials, worked closely with the quarterbacks and was once again adored by the Oakland Raiders fans.
It was as if he had never left the Coliseum.
Jon Gruden was a winner in his return to the sideline for Oakland when the Raiders got a touchdown pass from Connor Cook in a 16-10 victory over the Detroit Lions on Friday night.
“It was awesome,” he said. “I saw some recognisable faces that had gotten a little bit older. I saw some old friends who mean a lot to me. Like I said all along, this is a great responsibility. The nostalgia has worn off. We have to do something with the opportunity. But it was sure great to see the Raiders fans.”
Gruden was welcomed back warmly to the Coliseum for his first game here as Raiders coach since beating the Jets in a playoff game Jan. 12, 2001. Gruden was traded to Tampa Bay after that season and has spent the past nine years as an ESPN analyst.
Raiders owner Mark Davis lured Gruden back to the sideline with a 10-year contract worth a reported $100 million following a disappointing six-win season under Jack Del Rio.
The Gruden era appeared to get off to a rousing start when Marshawn Lynch ran 60 yards for a TD on the third snap, but the score was called back on a holding penalty by rookie tackle Kolton Miller.
“I was really ticked off after watching that get called back,” Gruden said. “Chucky came out for a brief moment tonight.”
Oakland settled for a punt on the only drive with starting quarterback Derek Carr, but scored three times in five drives with Cook at the helm. Cook threw a 7-yard TD pass to Ryan Switzer in the second quarter and led Oakland to a pair of field goals by rookie Eddy Pineiro. Cook finished 11 for 19 for 141 yards.
The Lions also welcomed a new coach in Matt Patricia, who opted to rest star quarterback Matthew Stafford, who got enough work in two days of joint practices against Oakland.
“We got a lot of good work in this week,” Patricia said. “He took a lot of reps and he saw a lot of different looks. That was the goal, to come out here and be able to get some of those different team tempo plays and have it scripted and a little controlled. Just thought it was a good opportunity tonight to have the other guys go out and compete.”
Matt Cassel got the start and went 10 for 18 for 81 yards, leading Detroit to one score on three drives, with Ameer Abdullah capping it with a 1-yard TD run. Jake Rudock finished 12 for 19 for 84 yards.
Lynch once again sat during the national anthem. Lynch also sat for the anthem all of last season but never gave a reason for his decision. No other players on either team demonstrated during the anthem, with the Lions all standing together with locked arms.
Lions second-round RB Kerryon Johnson showed good burst, running for 34 yards on seven carries and adding four catches for 33 yards.
“To me, didn’t make enough plays at the beginning, didn’t make enough plays at the end,” Johnson said. “I still have work to do. We still have work to do. It was the first game. First-game jitters out for everybody.”
The Raiders also had a strong performance from a second-round pick with DT P.J. Hall getting a sack and batting down a pass in the first half. Oakland ungrafted free agent RB Chris Warren III ran 13 times for 86 yards.
Raiders CB Antonio Hamilton limped off twice in the second half with an apparent ankle injury.
There was one penalty under the new rule prohibiting players from leading with their helmets. Oakland S Karl Joseph was called for the infraction on a tackle against Abdullah in the second quarter.
OFF THE DIRT
Pineiro’s second field goal came at the end of the first half after Gruden called for a run that set up Pineiro’s 48-yarder off the infield dirt. Pineiro added a 45-yard field goal off the dirt in the fourth quarter. The Raiders will play at least one regular-season game this season with the infield dirt in place for Oakland Athletics games.
“I remember when we drafted (Sebastian) Janikowski, it was like being on a foreign planet for him when he got here and started kicking off the dirt,” Gruden said of Oakland’s first-round pick in 2000. “We did manage to get him a couple of looks.”
Lions: Host Giants on Aug. 17.
Raiders: Visit Rams on Aug. 18.