Oakland Raiders Lose Heartbreaker to Atlanta Falcons 23-20


October 14, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham (55) sacks Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer (3) and forces a fumble in the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons beat the Raiders 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

The Oakland Raiders nearly pulled off the huge upset against the Atlanta Falcons this afternoon. However, they ended up being the victims of another loss, served to them by Matt Ryan and his all-star offense.

The game started, and it didn’t take long for the Oakland Raiders to make a statement. Less than two minutes into the game, Matt Ryan took the snap and tried to throw a slant route, but it was picked off by Oakland cornerback Joselio Hanson, who took it back 21 yards before running out of bounds. The interception was also the first of the season for the Raiders.

Unfortunately, it only took three plays for the Raiders momentum to get flushed away. Darren McFadden took the ball up the middle and got swamped in the pile, which resulted in a fumble. Falcons’ cornerback Robert McClain recovered the football and ran the ball upfield for 13 yards before getting tackled. The ensuing Falcons’ drive ended with Matt Bryant missing a 43-yard field goal.

But the Oakland Raiders would strike back. With about five minutes left in the first quarter, Matt Ryan unleashed a deep bomb intended for his star wideout Julio Jones. Michael Huff, however, had different plans. He launched himself into the air and snagged the ball for the interception, and was down at the two yard line. The Raiders were ecstatic about Huff’s interception, but knew that they would have to keep their composure, as they had a very long drive ahead of them.

From their own two yard line, the Raiders only had a limited  amount of options, as they were pinned against their own end zone. But they wanted the yards.

And they got them.

Carson Palmer took the snap and threw the ball deep to Denarius Moore, who was going one-on-one against veteran cornerback Asante Samuel. Moore sprinted and hustled past Samuel to reel in the pass for a gain of 49 yards. The Raiders failed to score a touchdown on the drive, but Sebastian Janikowski did boot in a 52-yard field goal, which just about ended the first quarter.

The second quarter was when the action really started to pick up. Atlanta’s first drive of the quarter resulted in a 4-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Roddy White. The touchdown capped off an 80-yard drive that lasted just over five and a half minutes.

The Raiders wasted no time gettng back to business, as their following drive rewarded them with three points, with Janikowski kicking a 22-yard field goal. The drive was highlighted by Mike Goodson’s 37-yard screen pass, as he weaved inside and out and bolted past Atlanta’s defenders for a big gain.

Then, on Atlanta’s next possession, the Oakland Raiders came up big once again. On a 1st-and-10, Matt Ryan was faced with a heavy Raiders’ blitz and he was hit hard as he threw the football. The ball went straight up and hung in the air for a while before falling right into the hands of Oakland safety Tyvon Branch. Branch ran the ball 11 yards after the interception and took it to their opponent’s 28-yard line.

And then, just two plays later, the Raiders scored their first touchdown of the game. Carson Palmer threw to Denarius Moore, who broke a tackle and ran into the end zone for the 25-yard touchdown, which was basically the end of the first half.

The first half of the game was fiery and intense, and the second half was nothing short of that.

The third quarter featured no touchdowns, as both teams really stepped it up on the defensive end and forced each other to punt several times. Matt Bryant had a 41-yard field goal with less than six minutes remaining, but that wasn’t all. There was one huge play in the third quarter, which came from the Atlanta Falcons. Falcons’ defensive end John Abraham, blew by the offensive line and hit Carson Palmer before he was able to get rid of the ball. Palmer fumbled the ball and Ray Edwards picked it up for Atlanta and took it to the Raiders’ two yard line before getting tackled by Darren McFadden. The Raiders played exceptional goal line defense, and they held the Falcons to a 20-yard field goal, that Matt Bryant kicked in.

With that said, the fourth quarter was soon underway.

On just their second drive of the fourth quarter, the Raiders looked poised for a touchdown. Mike Goodson exploded once again, this time for a 43-yard rush. Oakland was grinding out the yards, until they were faced with a critical 3rd-and-6. Carson Palmer threw to Denarius Moore, but Asante Samuel, who got burned on a deep bomb by Moore earlier, read the play the whole way and came up with the interception, and took it back 79 yards for a touchdown.

But Oakland would prove to be resilient yet again. On their very next possession, the Raiders capped off a two minute drive that ended with a 2-yard rush by Darren McFadden for the touchdown. That score tied the game, 20-20.

So with Janikowki’s touchback, the Atlanta Falcons had 40 seconds left in the game while starting at their own 20-yard line. Matt Ryan would have to lead an improbable final drive to get within at least field goal range.

And he did.

Slowly but surely, short pass after short pass, the Falcons started to gain the yards they needed. They moved the football down to the Raiders’ 37-yard line, and with just six seconds left, Matt Bryant was set to line up for the game-winning 55-yard field goal. As he got ready to kick, Dennis Allen called timeout and attempted to ice the kicker.

It didn’t make a difference.

Matt Bryant drilled the field goal, as it went straight through the uprights. Game over.

And so the Oakland Raiders dropped to 1-4, while the Atlanta Falcons remain unbeaten for another week. Much of this loss could be traced back to Oakland’s habitual problem of penalties. They were called for 12 penalities throughout today’s game, which resulted in a loss of 110 yards total.

The Raiders played their hearts out, and truly suffered a heartbreaking loss this afternoon. They will be right back at it next week, as they host the Jacksonville Jaguars. Hopefully this loss serves as motivation for the Oakland Raiders and will help them get back on track.