For the first time in 17 seasons, Sebastian Janikowski was not ready to kick field goals for the Raiders. In his place was Giorgio Tavecchio, an NFL rookie.
That rookie essentially won the the game for the Raiders.
His first ever field goal attempt in the NFL came from 52 yards. Tavecchio drilled it. Never a doubt. His second career field goal also came from 52 yards. His accurate leg came through again, as his kick sent the Raiders into halftime with a 13-10 lead.
Tavecchio became the second Raider kicker in history to make two field goals of 50 or more yards in a game. The other is Janikowski.
But the biggest kick of his NFL debut came in the final two minutes. The Raiders led 23-16, and Marshawn Lynch drove the team down the field while killing the clock. But Lynch was stuffed on a third and short, which brought Tavecchio out for a 43-yard field goal. A field goal to make it a two possession game, an insurmountable lead with under two minutes to play.
Tavecchio, like the two 52 yard attempts, split the uprights.
The rookie kicker ended up 4 of 4 on field goals and 2 of 2 on extra points. A perfect start to his NFL career. Although he wouldn’t view this as the start.
Tavecchio is a familiar face in the Raiders organization. He has been the number two kicker in training camp since 2014. But with Janikowski’s strong hold on the position, Tavecchio never got a chance to make the roster.
Then the Raiders placed Janikowski on injured reserve with back injury. And even though the Raiders worked out three kicker earlier in the week, they opted for Tavecchio.
Aside from the 50-yard kicks, Tavecchio and Janikowski share at least one other thing in common: they are both lefties.
For the comfort of holder Marquette King, the Raiders opted to bring Tavecchio on as the kicker. Lefty for lefty. 50-yarders for 50-yarders.
Tavecchio made as big of an impression in week one as possible. He’ll have at least seven more weeks to earn his spot, as Janikowski could return then.
Tyler Bischoff hosts Coaches Corner on AM 720 KDWN Monday through Friday at 6:00 pm.