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I wanted to sleep on this loss before giving my reaction to it. It's great to see the team on both sides of the ball came out and played as well as they did. The Raiders looked like a completely different team than the one that took field against Denver. Unfortunately the end result ended up being the same-- a loss.
There were so many positives to take from this game that its easy to see this as a moral victory. There is only one problem with that thinking, and that is there is no such thing as a moral victory. It is either a victory or it is not, and this was not.
That is not to say there were not great things that came out of this game things the Raiders might be able to build on. The defense played lights out, especially in key situations. For the Raiders to not have had a single interception coming into this game and get three of them in the first half is really a great thing. Especially with it being on the trendy 2012 MVP pick, Matt Ryan.
The three and out after Carson's blindside hit and fumble was another major positive. They even gave them that extra fourth play after an off-sides penalty on a terrific third down stop. The defense did not budge and just said "FINE we will do it again!" and then stuffed Michael Turner again to keep them out of the endzone.
Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey are terrific together. Having DHB out there gives Moore the chance to go deep and make plays. That was evident on the beautiful 49-yard bomb from Carson to Moore from the Raiders own 2 yard line after Michael Huff's first interception on the season. It was a thing of beauty and might not be able to happen if DHB isn't demanding some attention on the other side of the field.
The Raiders really did look much better than at almost any other point of the year. They looked like a completely different team and this was by far the Raiders most complete game of the season. They did well in every aspect, and outplayed Atlanta in almost every aspect, but they still lost this game and that has to be the bottom line.
I am doing my best to stay positive. But despite all of those positives and many more that I haven't mentioned, the fact remains that the Raiders lost and are now a tumultuous 1-4. Oakland is not out of it yet but it sure feels like they are.
The penalties that had been so good up until now boomed out of control in this game. Oakland had 12 penalties for 120 yards compated to only 2 penalties for 25 yards for Atlanta. Some of those penalties came after major plays that were called back too.
There were two specifically on long plays by Darren McFadden that really hurt. When you have a player like DMC who just cannot get it going, taking away major plays by him because of penalties is totally unacceptable. DMC ended this game with less than 3 yards per carry again which is also totally unacceptable, but those plays that were called back would have helped his ypc average a great deal.
The interception that looked like it clinched the game for Atlanta when Asante Samuel ran it back for a TD was a great play by Samuel, but still Carson needs to throw that ball better. If you throw the ball behind the wide receiver on a play out wide the biggest risk is exactly what happened, a TD going the other way.
That interception was the only real blemish on a great game by Carson Palmer. He threw for over 350 yards and a TD but the interception seems to be all I can really remember. It was a very well controlled game by Palmer up until that point but with a flurry of red everything about that game seemed to change.
Yet it didn't stop the Raiders from fighting back. The Raiders got the ball back and drove it right back down and scored. It was the most heart that I have seen from the Raiders this season, and yet it was not enough. Matt Ryan got his nickname Matty ICE for moments exactly like what happened in this game.
With 40 seconds on the clock if you give Ryan space to make the plays he absolutely will. He showed it again this past Sunday versus the Raiders when he lead the Falcons to the game winning field goal. There are certain times when Prevent defense is a good game plan, versus a player like Matt Ryan in a situation like that is not one of those times..
Was this a moral victory? Sure if you believe in moral victories it was. Unfortunately believing in them does not make them a reality. In reality it was still just a loss.