Fal­cons win over Raiders

The Standard Journal - - SPORTS -

OAK­LAND, Calif. (AP) — Once Matt Ryan and the At­lanta Fal­cons of­fense got go­ing, the Oak­land Raiders strug­gled to stop them.

Ryan threw for 396 yards and three touch­downs with help from a for­tu­nate bounce, and the Fal­cons bounced back from a home loss to open the season by beat­ing the Raiders 35-28 on Sun­day.

After be­ing forced to punt on the first two drives of the game, the Fal­cons (1-1) scored on seven of their next eight pos­ses­sions against a strug­gling Oak­land de­fense to spoil the home opener for the Raiders (1-1).

“Once we kind of found our stride, we kept go­ing and played re­ally well,” Ryan said. “We did a bet­ter job in the red zone to­day. Still have some op­por­tu­ni­ties to con­tinue to im­prove, ar­eas we can get bet­ter. But, for the most part, I thought our guys played re­ally well to­day.”

The Fal­cons ran the ball ef­fec­tively with Devonta Free­man and Tevin Cole­man com­bin­ing for 139 yards on the ground, got a typ­i­cal big day from star re­ceiver Julio Jones, who had five catches for 106 yards and a score

and then got lucky at a key spot in the fourth quar­ter.

With the game tied and At­lanta fac­ing a third down, Ryan’s pass to Cole­man was bro­ken up. But the ball popped up in the air and went right to Justin Hardy in the end zone for 8yard score that gave the Fal­cons the lead for good.

That helped erase the bad feel­ing from last week’s 31-24 loss at home to Tampa Bay .

“We were all dis­ap­pointed in the way that we started, so we went to work last week,” tight end Jacob Tamme said. “We were com­ing out here, big, long trip. Big trip to the West Coast, play­ing a team that was on a high after what they did last week, so I thought it was heck of a win, a great way to get on the right track.”

Here are some other take­aways from the Fal­cons’ win:

STRUG­GLING D: For a sec­ond straight week, Oak­land’s re­vamped de­fense strug­gled to stop any­one. After al­low­ing 507 yards in a 35-34 win at New Or­leans , the Raiders gave up 528 yards to the Fal­cons. It’s the most yards al­lowed through two games since at least 1940, ac­cord­ing to Pro Foot­ball Ref­er­ence. Coach Jack Del Rio pulled line­backer Ben Heeney in the sec­ond half after do­ing the same to cor­ner­back Sean Smith a week ago and also took over play­call­ing du­ties late in the game from co­or­di­na­tor Ken Nor­ton Jr.

“I’m speech­less,” line­backer Bruce Irvin said. “I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced this ex­pe­ri­ence. Un­til ev­ery­body makes a full com­mit­ment to turn­ing this thing around we’re go­ing to be a sub­par de­fense.”

No hud­dle

At­lanta fre­quently em­ployed a no- hud­dle of­fense that left the Raiders de­fense scram­bling at times. The Fal­cons went no-hud­dle on more than 25 plays, in­clud­ing TD passes to Jones and Tamme .

“We did a great job with the tempo — it was ef­fec­tive for us,” Ryan said. “I thought we ran the ball ex­tremely well out of no-hud­dle and also, we hit some big shots down the field. Go­ing side­line to side­line with all the key plays that we did, I re­ally thought it was ef­fec­tive for us.”

Ef­fi­cient of­fense

With Oak­land’s de­fense strug­gling, there is even more pres­sure on quar­ter­back Derek Carr and the of­fense to pick up the slack. The Raiders have scored 63 points and gained 940 yards through two games with­out com­mit­ting any turnovers. Carr went 34 for 45 for 299 yards and three TDs against the Fal­cons.

“The great thing about this team is we’re not go­ing to be pulled apart,” Carr said. “We un­der­stand the sit­u­a­tion. We un­der­stand what’s go­ing on. There’s noth­ing that’s go­ing to di­vide us, at all.”

Tar­get­ing tight ends

Ryan fre­quently found his tight ends for big gains, com­plet­ing 10 passes for 180 yards and a TD to Tamme, Austin Hooper and Levine Toilolo. Cov­er­ing tight ends was a ma­jor is­sue for the Raiders last season and is a prob­lem that hasn’t been solved yet. Oak­land will get a tough test next week against Ten­nessee’s De­lanie Walker.

“I don’t think there were any phys­i­cal mis­matches out there,” Del Rio said. “It was a mat­ter of guys hav­ing their eyes where they’re sup­posed to be and know­ing what the heck they’re do­ing.”

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