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Falcons Defeat Oakland Raiders To Register First Victory – Week 2 Recap

Falcons NFL Erik Drost via


Matt Ryan went on a rampage and helped to lift the Atlanta Falcons past the Oakland Raiders on the road.

The Atlanta Falcons are now 1-1 after a 35-28 victory over the Raiders in Oakland on Sunday. With a difficult looking run of games over the next month, it was imperative that Atlanta reacted well to a disappointing home loss in the season opener and Falcons fans will be delighted to see their team register their first victory of the season.

While the score may look close, the reality was that the Falcons looked very impressive for large parts of the game, with Matt Ryan and the offense marching down the field at will at times.

For the second week in a row, penalties were a major concern for the Falcons, keeping Oakland drives alive and negating gains for the offense. Atlanta committed 7 penalties for 73 yards with the Raiders benefiting to the tune of 4 first downs. It’s the easiest thing in the world to offer excuses for being unable to get your defense off the field, but there’s a very real chance that the Falcons would be 2-0 and sitting top of the NFC South if they erased some of the most basic mental errors.


After looking lost and uncomfortable in Kyle Shanahan’s zone-blocking West Coast Offense for much of last year, Matt Ryan is finally looking as if he’s in control of the offense. He is still throwing behind receivers on occasion, but it’s few and far between and for a scheme that relies so heavily on timing, the coaches must be delighted with the step that he’s taken. Ryan completed 26 out of 34 passes for 396 yards and 3 touchdowns. He registered his first interception of the season, but he’s looking much more like the 2012 version of himself who was 10 yards away from leading the Falcons to the Super Bowl.

There were a far greater number of beneficiaries to this than last year, when Ryan’s first three options seemed to be Julio Jones on every play. While Jones again showed why he is considered one of the best wide receivers in the game, his 106 yards and a touchdown came on only five catches. He should get the ball more in the upcoming weeks, but a lighter workload should benefit him in the long run and help prevent some of the niggling injuries that have done their best (but not succeeded) in slowing him down throughout his career.

Elsewhere, tight ends Jacob Tamme, Levine Toilolo and rookie Austin Hooper showed the dangers of leaving the middle of the field unprotected while Aldrick Robinson and Taylor Gabriel showed flashes of their big play ability.

The running backs continued to split time in the backfield. Devonta Freeman received the majority of the carries, but was perhaps surprisingly a non-factor in the passing game, which was arguably where he proved himself most last year. Tevin Coleman continued to be targeted in the red zone, but his lack of effectiveness could lead to Freeman getting more looks, having excelled in those situations last season, with Justin Hardy’s athleticism and awareness turning a deflected pass aimed in Coleman’s direction into a bizarre touchdown.


The Falcons registered a sack! They didn’t actually hit the QB but Vic Beasley was in close enough proximity as Derek Carr ran out of bounds to get the credit. One thing the unit does have is speed and that’s a very useful weapon. Other than that, the pass rush was anemic and lacked energy but the Raiders’ offensive line is an uncompromising group to go up against for any team, especially with Kelechi Osemele looking like arguably the best offensive lineman in the league this season.

There’s been speculation over whether Ra’Shede Hageman being inactive was due to performance or off-the-field issues, but the Falcons defensive line looked better with him in there. A divisive figure who doesn’t always appear to be giving his full effort, Hageman can dominate at times and made some plays in the run game. Furthermore, Pro Football Focus credited him with 2 hurries on 12 rushes, illustrating his potential in that aspect.

With one of the best wide receiver tandems in the league in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, the corner backs had to be on top of their game. If Dan Quinn had been asked before the game if he would take a combined 102 yards from Cooper and Crabtree with the obvious pass rush deficiencies, it seems unlikely that he would have declined. Credit to Trufant, Alford and undrafted rookie Brian Poole for their efforts in slowing them down.


The natural state of being an Atlanta Falcons fan is one of pessimism, but the team played very well. They need to cut down on penalties and get better at putting games away, but the offense was excellent and if looked at impartially the result was fair. If Dan Quinn, Richard Smith, Bryan Cox and the rest of the defensive staff can generate even an average pass rush from somewhere then the team will be competitive. A Monday night rivalry match against a Saints team who have had the Falcons’ number in the Sean Payton and Drew Brees era awaits, but Atlanta will be going into the match with confidence having beaten the team who beat New Orleans in week 1.