After trading punches all game, the Falcons knocked out the Raiders in the 4th quarter.
The Oakland Raiders welcomed the Atlanta Falcons to the Bay Area for a week two tilt on Sunday afternoon. Oakland entered the contest fresh off of a thrilling last-minute victory over the New Orleans Saints in the Big Easy in Week 1 while the Falcons were nursing the wounds of a seven-point loss to their division rival Tampa Bay.
The game started off slow as both teams traded opening punts. The Raiders defense gave up a pair of completions to Matt Ryan on the opening series and 18 rushing yards to Devonta Freeman on three carries. Derek Carr was 3-of-3 on the opening possession for a pedestrian 10 yards.
On the next Atlanta possession, David Amerson defended a Matt Ryan 3rd down pass, forcing an Atlanta punt.
With the Raiders driving near midfield, Carr made an ill-advised throw on 3rd & 5 to Amari Cooper that was batted down by Desmond Trufant. An excellent Marquette King punt on the next play pinned the Falcons at their own nine yard-line.
Freeman, Tevin Coleman and Ryan then drove Atlanta to midfield over the next four plays, before Ryan connected on the next two snaps to Aldrick Robinson for 20 yards and Levine Toilolo for 16.
With the Falcons offense well within the redzone, Oakland’s defense held and forced a Matt Bryant 21-yard Field Goal attempt that would connect and give Atlanta a 3-0 lead with 11:58 remaining in the first half. Ryan was a perfect five-for-five on the drive.
Carr hit wide receiver Michael Crabtree on the next play for 10 yards and a first down to give Jack Del Rio’s offense some breathing room. Two plays later, Carr stepped up in the pocket and connected with Latavius Murray in the flat, giving the Raiders starting running back room to work upfield for a first down at their own 34-yard line.
The Raiders third-year gunslinger then floated a 25-yard pass to Amari Cooper, who came down with the ball after an acrobatic effort. After a Robert Alford pass interference penalty on Crabtree in the endzone, Murray took a handoff up the gut for six. Sebastian Janikowski tacked on the extra point to give Oakland a 7-3 lead over the Falcons with 7:51 to go in the half.
Ryan would hit tight end Jacob Tamme on two of the next three plays for a combined 32 yards to bring the Falcons into Raider-territory. On 3rd & 10, Ryan connected with Robinson for 10 yards to keep the drive alive. A few plays later, Falcons superstar wideout Julio Jones hauled in a 21-yard touchdown strike from Ryan. Atlanta led 10-7 with 4:46 to go before halftime thanks to the 91-yard drive.
The ensuing Raider possession started off dicey when reserve running back Taiwan Jones muffed the kickoff forcing Oakland to take over at its own 2-yard line. The highlight of this drive was Oakland rookie change-of-pace back DeAndre Washington gaining 32 yards on two plays before a Lee Smith holding penalty set Oakland back 10 yards.
After another Marquette King boot just before the half, King committed a personal foul horse-collar tackle on a big run back by Atlanta return-man Eric Weems, giving Atlanta possession inside Oakland’s 10-yard line.
Ken Norton Jr.’s defense would answer the bell however, holding Tevin Coleman to nine rushing yards on the next three plays to force a second Matt Bryant field goal. This gave the Falcons a 13-7 lead with 38 seconds to go before halftime.
With the Raiders hoping to drive for a last-second field goal, Seth Roberts hauled in a 3rd down pass and scooted out of bounds with two seconds remaining to set up a 58-yard attempt for Sebastian Janikowski, but the Florida State alum left the boot short, and the Raiders entered the half trailing for a second straight week.
Oakland’s opening drive of the second half would stall near midfield, after Seth Roberts failed to look up on a slant rout pass from Carr. King would launch the ensuing punt out of the back of the endzone.
However, Jack Del Rio noticed Atlanta failed to get a 12th man off the field, and would win a resulting challenge to keep the Raider drive alive. After a few plays to move the ball downfield, Carr hit second-year tight end Clive Walford with a 31-yard strike for a touchdown. Oakland retook the lead at 14-13.
After the Raider defense gave up 62 yards on two plays, Ryan was picked off by Amerson in the endzone, and Oakland took over at their own 20-yard line with 9:28 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
Carr connected with Cooper on a nine-yard strike, but the ball was spotted as close to the line to gain as possible without being a 1st down. Del Rio would again challenge the ruling on the field, and once again win, giving his team a 1st down to keep the drive alive.
Atlanta would stop the drive three plays later and take over from their own 15-yard line after a fair catch on another booming punt from King.
Oakland’s defense would get toasted on the next two plays as Ryan connected on a pair of strikes for 58 yards. Three plays later Ryan hit Tamme for a 14-yard score, and then converted a QB sneak on the two-point conversion to give the Falcons a 21-14 lead with 3:42 to go in the 3rd quarter.
A few successful plays including a 15-yard Murray run would bring Oakland into Atlanta territory as they attempted to tie the game entering the 4th quarter. A 17-yard Murray run a few plays later would bring Oakland inside the Atlanta 5-yard line, before Carr hit Crabtree with a 2-yard dart on 4th down.
Del Rio rolled the dice with this combination for a second straight week and came up roses. The score was tied at 21 with exactly 12 minutes to go in the contest.
After driving inside the Oakland 10, Atlanta completed what may prove to be the luckiest pass of the entire NFL season, when Ryan’s 3rd down throw ricocheted high into the air before landing in the hands of Justin Hardy. This gave the Falcons a 28-21 lead with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game.
Oakland took its next drive to midfield, and thought they had tied the game for a moment. Carr and Cooper connected on a long touchdown pass, but Cooper was flagged for Illegal Touching after running out of bounds before he made the catch. Jalen Richard would be stopped short on 4th & 2 the very next play, giving Atlanta the ball at midfield, while still holding a touchdown lead with just over seven minutes remaining.
About a minute and a half later, Coleman would score from 13 yards out, and suddenly the Raiders found themselves in a 35-21 whole with just 4:35 to go in the game.
Trying to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, Carr completed four passes for first downs on the ensuing drive to bring Oakland to the Atlanta 6-yard line with just under three minutes to play. Carr found Andre Holmes in the back of the endzone to bring the Raiders within a touchdown just before the Two-Minute Warning.
Del Rio would elect to drive it deep on the ensuing kickoff and Atlanta would take over at its own 8-yard line, trying to ice the game with 2:10 remaining.
The teams would come out of the Two-Minute Warning facing a 3rd & 3 from Atlanta’s own 20 and the Raiders flinched. Ryan completed a pass to Mohamed Sanu for 15 yards and a first down.
Two plays later Oakland would use its final timeout facing 2nd & 8 with 1:40 remaining. Oakland would stuff Atlanta’s next two runs to force a punt with 10 seconds to go. Matt Bosher would boom the ensuing kick out of the back of the endzone, giving Derek Carr a chance for one final heave.
After a short pass and a couple of laterals, the Raiders would fall to the Falcons 35-28.
Carr finished the contest competing 33 of 44 passes for 283 yards (6.4 YPA), 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Ryan was 26 of 34 for 396 yards (11.6 YPA), 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.
Freeman led all Falcons rushers with 93 yards on 17 carries (5.5 YPC) while Coleman rounded out the Falcon backfield attack with 46 yards on 12 attempts (3.8 YPC) and 1 touchdown.
Murray and Washington both had solid games for Oakland, finishing with 57 and 46 yards respectively and both averaging over 7 YPC. Murray added the first quarter touchdown.
Oakland spread the ball all over the field through the air, with Cooper leading the way, with 4 receptions for 55 yards. (13.8 YPC).
Reggie Nelson led Oakland with 12 tackles, Khalil Mack had two QB hits and David Amerson defended 3 passes with one interception.
Janikowski was 0-for-1 on field goals and Marquette King boomed a 64-yard punt.
Oakland and Atlanta each sit at 1-1 with the Raiders traveling to Tennessee to face the Titans next Sunday.