The Oakland Raiders kicked off to the Atlanta Falcons to start off this home opening game for the 2016 season. The Falcons started moving the ball early on in the drive but the Raiders managed to stall them just outside of field goal range. They actually got into long field goal range but decided to punt instead, possibly because of being in the dirt infield of the baseball diamond for the Oakland Athletics which the Raiders always have to deal with to start the year.
It was a while before the first scoring drive happened though, the two teams each traded punts 2 times to start the game. As a matter of fact, it was even still 0-0 at the end of the 1st quarter. Not for long after that though, because the Falcons were able to convert a 21 yard field goal on their next drive to take the lead 3-0. It was actually an impressive drive with Matt Ryan going 5 for 5 passing along with a couple of good runs by Devonta Freeman. However, they faltered inside the Raiders 10 yard line thanks to solid goal line defense from the Raiders which included a tipped pass from Malcolm Smith on 3rd down.
The Atlanta lead didn't last long though because the Raiders went right down the field and scored a touchdown on a 1 yard Latavius Murray run. A silly defensive pass interference penalty on a badly overthrown ball that was intercepted is how they got down to the 1 though. The Raiders were happy to take the 7-3 lead anyway, even if it was because of a lucky and needless pass interference from the Falcons. Amari Cooper had the nicest play on the drive with a deep ball reception that seemed like he was suspended in the air supernaturally after jumping too early but then he made the great catch anyway.
Don't get too excited though, the Raiders lead didn't last long either because the Falcons offense was rolling still from their last drive. Matt Ryan led the Falcons right back into Raiders territory where he eventually connected on a 21 yard TD pass to a wide open Julio Jones. Sean Smith had the coverage on Julio Jones on the TD play but was left in the dust by Jones with a quick post route over the middle, it was only Jones' 2nd catch of the day but it was a big one to make the score 10-7 Falcons.
Taiwan Jones proceeded to muff the following kickoff where the Raiders barely managed to recover the ball at their own 2 yard line. A 9 yard pass to Michael Crabtree followed by a 26 yard run by DeAndre Washington got them far away from that mistake quickly. Unfortunately, a holding penalty stalled the drive and forced another Raiders punt just after the 2 minute warning.
The 55 yard punt looked good until the return man took the ball and ran it 73 yards in the other direction. It would have been a touchdown but Marquette King just caught the returner WR Eric Weems from behind, though it took a horsecollar tackle to do it which added 15 yards onto the return. The Falcons started their drive at the Raiders 9 yard line after that, but the Raiders goal line defense again held strong to force another 21 yard field goal. Though the kick made the score 13-7 Falcons, it really was a huge win for the Raiders after the big return from Atlanta.
The Raiders had just 38 seconds left in the half and started their last drive of the half at their own 25 after the touchback on the kickoff. They managed to dink and dunk with that time to get into long field goal range for Sebastian Janikowski. The 58 yard field went wide right though after a poor snap doomed the kick that would have set the NFL record for most 50 yard field goals made by a kicker for Janikowski. It's only a matter of time before Seabass gets that record but this would have been a really great time to do it.
Oakland was outplayed for this half of football but only are down 6 points, so they should actually be pretty happy that they are losing by less than a touchdown considering the circumstances. Hopefully they regroup at halftime and have a stronger 2nd half performance. There is a lot of football left to play in this one and the Raiders get the ball first after the halftime break.