As the Oakland Raiders flew all the way to Atlanta, they were preparing to not only face one of the hottest teams in the NFL, the 5-0 Falcons, but also the odds against them when playing after a bye week and at 1:00 P.M. eastern time, which translates to 10:00 A.M. (PDT). The Silver&Black hit the Georgia Dome field trying to break a streak of 9 straight losses coming off byes, which goes all the way back to 2002, their last winning season. And the last time the Raiders were able to win in a eastern time zone was in 2009, when they beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
Raiders’ players who did not suit up for the game: QB Terrelle Pryor (“C.D.” – Coaches’ Decision), TE Richard Gordon (hamstring), OT Khalif Barnes (hamstring), G Lucas Nix (C.D.), DE Jack Crawford (C.D.), DT Christo Bilukidi (C.D.) and CB Shawntae Spencer (ankle). In other hand, the Falcons seem to be pretty healthy, with no notable inactives.
The Falcons got the first possession and right off the bat Matt Ryan connected with Julio Jones for a big gain to the Raiders 45 yard line. But then Ryan, trying to hit a crossing route, was intercepted by Joselio Hanson, the first raider int of the season. Darren McFadden started the contest with two solid gains, but a holding penalty on Marcel Reece turned a first down to a 2nd&13. That led to a DMC fumble on a draw run, recovered by the Falcons at the Raiders 32. The raider defense stood strong, and a great combined tackle by Pat Lee and Matt Shaughnessy forced a 4th&3. The 43 yard field goal by Matt Bryant was no good, wide to the left.
The Raiders started their second drive at their own 45 yard line. After a completely stuffed McFadden run, Palmer faced a 3rd&12 at the 44, and completed on a comeback route to a diving Rod Streater. But it didn’t take long for another 3rd&long: after a John Abraham’s sack over Willie Smith, the 3rd&16 was too much for McFadden to run, leading to a Shane Lechler punt which had a good chance to be downed inside the 5 yard line, but Mike Mitchell and Taiwan Jones got in each other’s ways, causing a touchback. The Falcons needed just one play to get inside Raiders territory, with a strike to Roddy White in addition to a Matt Shaughnessy roughing the passer penalty. And on their second play, with Shaughnessy over his shoulder, Ryan threw deep to the endzone but ended up being intercepted by Michael Huff, downed at the 2 yard line. The Raiders, who came to week 6 with zero interceptions, now have 2 in just one quarter.
With his back against the wall, Palmer threw a bomb right on first down, caught greatly by Denarius Moore with Asante Samuel all over him, to the Falcons 49 yard line. On a 3rd&4 at the 43, the playcall was an end around to Darrius Heyward-Bey, and DHB put a move on John Abraham at the line of scrimmage and turned on the jets to the 23 yard line. A offensive pass interference on Brandon Myers led to a 3rd&20, which was an incomplete pass to David Ausberry on a screen. Sebastian Janikowski stepped onto the field and made the 52 yard FG. At the end of the first quarter, it’s Raiders 3 x 0 Falcons. Darren McFadden appears to be a little shaken up after the drive, with staff members taking a look at his right arm and shoulder.
On the ensuing drive, the Falcons moved the chains with ease, mostly through the air. A Julio Jones reception led to a 1st&goal at the 2. On 2nd down, Ryan had plenty of time to find Roddy White in the back of the endzone, over Phillip Wheeler. Raiders 3 x 7 Falcons. McFadden looks good to go, as he starts the drive with a 12 yard run. The Raiders offense got to midfield with consistency, but a holding penalty on Willie Smith negated a big DMC run, turning it into a 2&13 at the Raiders 44 yard line. That also turned out be a big play, as the screen pass to Mike Goodson went all the way to the Falcons’ 19. Mike Brisiel was injured on the play, being replaced by Alex Parsons. A Denarius Moore catch on a crossing route got the Raiders at the 9 yard line, on goal line mode. McFadden ran to the 1 yard line. But a drop by Brandon Myers in the endzone and a stuffed DMC run led to another FG, from 22 yards out. Raiders 6 x 7 Falcons with 4:12 left in the first half.
The raider defense started their next series with a Shaughnessy sack, which led to a 3rd&14 at the 16 yard line. That was good for a first down due to a holding penalty on Phillip Wheeler, who was trying to cover Tony Gonzalez. But right on the next play, Wheeler redeemed himself with a furious blitz through the middle, crushing Matt Ryan and causing a flat throw, easily intercepted by Tyvon Branch. The Raiders offense hit the field with a little over 2 minutes left in the half, and with 28 yards to go. It didn’t take long though. On a playaction pass, Palmer found Moore over the 10 yard line. The wide out slipped through a tackle and, counting with a Brandon Myers block, ran all the way to the endzone. Raiders 13×7 Falcons, with 1:50 left in the first half. A Roddy White catch to midfield was erased by a holding penalty. That led to a 3rd&15 at the 17 yard line. Tony Gonzalez’s first reception of the game was 2 yards shy of the first down. The Raiders got the ball with 39 seconds and 85 yards to go, and after 1 run by McFadden, they decided to let the clock hit zeros and head to the locker room. At halftime, it’s Raiders 13 x 7 Falcons.
The Raiders started with possession in the second half, but went for a 3&out after 2 stuffed McFadden runs and a pass defended out of Moore’s hands. The raider defense also forced a 3&out when a blitzing Tyvon Branch forced Matt Ryan out of the pocket and an incompletion. A Derek Hagan catch got the Raiders to their 40 yard line. On 3rd&7 at the 43, Palmer underthrew Heyward-Bey and Oakland had to punt. On a 3rd&2 at their own 37, the Falcons got really lucky when a Ryan’s pass bounced off the helmet of Joselio Hanson, falling right on the hands of Harry Douglas, into Raiders territory. On a 1st&10 at the 23, Michael Huff almost had his second interception on a short strike on the middle. On 3rd down, Hanson was once again on Douglas, but this time forced the incompletion. Matt Bryant made the 41 yard FG. Raiders 13 x 10 Falcons with 5:06 to go in the 3rd quarter.
Right on the second play of the drive, John Abraham got past Jared Veldheer and strip sacked Palmer. The ball was recovered by the Falcons and returned to the Raiders 2 yard line, thanks to a Darren McFadden tackle. Miles Burris and Tyvon Branch heavily collided with Michael Turner to down him out of the endzone on 2nd down. On 3rd down, Rolando McClain led the pack to give no room to work for Jason Snelling. The Falcons had to settle for the short FG. Raiders 13 x 13 Falcons. The Raiders again faced an early 3rd down, for 3 at their own 27 yard line, and it was completed due to a great DMC catch on a low Palmer throw, getting the Raiders to their own 47 yard line. A Mike Goodson run would be good to get the Raiders into Falcons’ territory, but another penalty (holding by Willie Smith) pushed the team back to their 43 yard line. On 3rd&14, Oakland played it safe with a Goodson draw, punting the ball next, fair caught at the 10 yard line.
Matt Ryan overcame a 3rd&9 with a strike to Julio Jones to the 30 yard line, despite double coverage by Huff and Giordano. Well, at least it looked that way, but a great challenge by head coach Dennis Allen showed that Jones didn’t maintain control of the football throughout the whole process, resulting in a incomplete pass and a 3&out. The Raiders offense avoided another 3&out when Palmer found Moore for a first down, despite a big hit delivered by the defender. Moore came out of that play shaken up. Oakland got into Falcons’ territory when a risky play by Palmer, an across the field pass out of the bootleg, turned out to be a great one, connecting with Brandon Myers. On a 3rd&5 at the 44, with Moore back in the game, Palmer was sacked, leading to a punt. The Falcons got the ball back at their own 20 yard line with 8:40 to go in the game.
Matt Ryan scrambled to his 37 yard line. 2 plays later, it was a 3rd&1 situation and Ryan tried to connect with Gonzalez, but was unable to due to great coverage by Huff. The Raiders got the ball at their own 10 yard line with 6:19 left. An excellent run by Mike Goodson up the middle was good for 42 yards all the way to the Falcons’ 47 yard line. A screen pass to Brandon Myers got the Raiders to their 32 yard line. On a 3rd&6 at the 28, Palmer tried to connect with Denarius Moore far to the right, but Asante Samuel jumped the route, intercepted the ball and took it to the endzone. Raiders 13 x 20 Falcons with 2:40 left.
Trying to get back in the game, Palmer found Hagan over the middle to the 37 yard line. A Myers catch got Oakland to midfield. Palmer was almost intercepted again, but the DB could not secure the ball. A big gain by Moore was negated by a Veldheer holding penalty, leading to a 2nd&20 at the Raiders 32 yard line. 2 receptions, by Hagan and Myers, led to a 1st&10 at the Falcons’ 43. Palmer then finds Hagan over the right, and the wide out makes a man miss and is pushed out of bounds at the 6 yard line. McFadden’s run gets the offense to the 2 yard line. And he just needs one more run, up the middle, to get the touchdown. Raiders 20 x 20 Falcons with 40 seconds left. The Falcons get the ball at their own 20 yard line after the touchback, with 2 timeouts. After a few short passes, Ryan finds Gonzalez to reach midfield with 12 seconds left. He then finds Gonzalez again on the 38 yard line with 6 seconds left. The 55 yards FG by Matt Bryant is good. Final score: Raiders 20 x 23 Falcons.
Mike Brisiel was not able to finish the game with a head injury.
Carson Palmer finished the game with 23 completions (70%) for 353 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Darren McFadden ran for 70 yards (2.6 YPC) and 1 TD. Denarius Moore led the receivers with 5 catches for 104 yards and 1 TD. Phillip Wheeler led the defense with 10 total tackles. Matt Shaughnessy recorded a sack. Joselio Hanson, Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch recorded 1 interception each.
The Raiders will now host the Jaguars on October 21th at 1:25 (PDT).