The absences of offensive coordinator Greg Olson and rookie Henry Ruggs III were one thing, but the loss of Derek Carr early on added another layer of drama to the proceedings.

Had a few other plays gone the Raiders’ way, Marcus Mariota‘s sensational night back in the spotlight could’ve had a much happier ending.

“To be truthful, it’s been a long journey. I’ve been through kind of everything,” Mariota said of his confidence after his performance. “From injuries to surgeries to mental, kind of just, lapses, the confidence thing. I just truly appreciate the Raiders and the entire organization for kind of helping me through that.”

Having last played in a meaningful game in Week 6 of last season, his last with the Titans, Mariota impressed with a final stat line of 17-of-28 for 226 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

His unexpected return came after Carr suffered a groin injury on third and goal during the Raiders’ second drive of the night. Following a successful field goal attempt, Mariota came on to lead Las Vegas’ first drive of the second quarter.

His first pass found tight end Foster Moreau for a gain of 22 and sparked a seven-play, 86-yard scoring drive, capped off by a beautiful 35-yard TD toss to Darren Waller to give the Raiders an early 10-7 lead.

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