The Oakland Raiders lose a heart-breaker to the Atlanta Falcons, thanks to a late Matt Bryant 55-yard field goal, 23-20. The Raiders came into Sunday’s ball game with a solid game plan and almost executed it to perfection. But as the saying goes, almost doesn’t count, and finishing off ball games is the difference between elite and non-elite teams.
Oakland running back, Darren McFadden had a solid rushing day (although he didn’t go over the century mark), with 70 yards rushing and a touchdown run. Raiders’ quarterback Carson Palmer had the best game of any Raider, throwing for 353 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception. The interception turned out to be a “Classic Palmer INT”, as he has a knack for throwing interceptions at the wrong time in ball games…smh.
Oakland was on the move deep in Falcons territory with three plus minutes left in the ball game, when Palmer threw a “Pick 6″ to Falcons cornerback, Asante Samuel on a third down pass play. Had the pass been completed, Oakland could have eventually scored a TD on the drive. Had the pass fall incomplete, Sebastian Janikowski kicks a field goal that more than likely would give the Raiders a 16-13 lead, instead of a 20-13 deficit.
Palmer regroups on the next drive, and leads the Raiders to a touchdown on a McFadden 2-yard run, and ties it up 20-20, but left enough time for Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan to put the Falcons in field goal range, thanks to the prevent zone the Raiders defense were playing on the last drive.
The Raiders defense damn near had a phenomenal game until that last drive, holding the Falcons potent offense to only one offensive touchdown. Ryan threw for 249 passing yards and a touchdown, but also had three interceptions as he was pressured by the Raiders’ D for most of the ball game. Atlanta running back, Michael Turner only had a dismal 33 rushing yards. If Oakland’s defense could bring this type of effort on a consistent basis, they probably wouldn’t be 1-4….smh.
Back to the Falcons’ last series, with 40 seconds left, defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, got all “cute” and dropped back into a prevent zone defense. I know Atlanta has big time wide receiver threats that can stretch the field vertically, and you wanted to take away that option down the field (especially after seeing their game against Carolina the previous week ), but they gave up to much underneath routes and catches near the sideline that would eventually set up Bryant’s game winning field goal.
Rookie head coach Dennis Allen and the Raiders can’t seem to catch break, which is a common issue with teams that have talent, but do not have an established identity, and more importantly are still learning how to win. Obviously Raider Nation doesn’t want to hear that type of assessment when their team has been on the verge of winning two division titles two years in a row.
But bottom line, until the Silver and Black develop some continuity in the front office and on the field, unexplainable inconsistency will always rear its ugly head. With some winnable ball games coming up on the schedule, we will see if Allen has the ability to motivate this exasperated Raiders team. But for now, it’s simply just another edition of “Hangover Monday’s” for Raider Nation.
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Written by Arthur Kai