What to do with a game like this. I think Jack Del Rio summed it up pretty well on Monday when he said he wasn’t interested in the positives that came from the game. But I must still collect whatever positive performances there were to be had, if only to excuse some individuals from this monumental defensive collapse.
It was a second straight week of the opposing team scoring at will late in the game. As if they realized at some point, the Raiders are simply unable to stop them from doing whatever it is they wish to do and at that point just let it loose.
The Falcons may have opted for a more conservative approach at some point, just to run clock, but the Raiders offense was scoring points as well, so they needed to make sure they stayed ahead.
In total the Raiders held the lead for a total of 9:40. The relinquished their final lead by the end of the third quarter and never got it back. Though they were able to tie the game at 21-21 early in the fourth, that tie game lasted all of 2:31.
Let’s get to those positives, shall we?!
Leading the Raiders offensive attack was their Pro Bowl workhorse back. He carried the ball just 8 times, but averaged 7.1 yards per carry to lead the team in rushing. He also added 6 catches for 44 yards, to go over 100 yards from scrimmage.
Murray picked up the Raiders first 1st down of the day, breaking a tackle to pick up 9 yards on the offense’s second play of the game. It was his only carry of the first quarter.
They went back to Murray in the second quarter, with Derek Carr throwing to him for a 10-yard gain. Two plays later, Atlanta was called for defensive pass interference in the end zone to put the ball at the one-yard line. And in first and goal, Murray found a crease on the left side to punch it in for the score and a 7-3 lead.
That lead wouldn’t last long (3:05 to be exact) and the Raiders would get one more chance at the end of the first half to put points on the board. But with just :37 seconds on the clock, they would need to act fast. Once again, the Raiders went to Murray on the drive. He caught a 5-yard pass and got out of bounds to stop the clock. Two plays later, Carr dumped it to him over the middle for ten yards to reach midfield. A couple more short completions and the Raiders set up for a 58-yard field goal. Which Janikowski missed. But at least Murray and the offense put them in position for the attempt.
The first drive of the second half, Murray had a 7-yard run to put the Raiders in first down at the Falcons’ 31-yard-line. And they scored their second touchdown on a touchdown pass to Clive Walford to take the lead back 14-13.
In the fourth quarter, when the Raiders were once again trailing and in desperate need of a comeback, it was time to hop aboard the Tay Train again. On the second play of the drive, he broke out left to pick up 15 yards. Later in the drive, he had a 5-yard catch followed immediately by a run that mirrored his previous run, this time out right and this time going for 18 yards to set the Raiders up at the 2-yard-line. They would score a few plays later to tie the game at 21-21.
The Falcons would rattle off two touchdown drives after that. Murray would add an 11-yard catch on the Raiders’ final drive that brought the score to within 7 at 35-28, but it was not enough.
Kelechi Osemele, Donald Penn, Jamize Olawale
Someone had to do the blocking for a few of those runs by Latavius as well as the other backs on this team. That left side of the Raiders line has been their bread and butter over the first two games, both against the run and the pass. Carr sacked just once in this game and neither of these two gentlemen gave up the sack or any pressures. Though it’s worth noting, especially for Penn, that alone isn’t making a grand statement against the Falcons’ league worst pass rush defense.
What does speak volumes was their work in run blocking and Olawale is very much a part of that as well. Penn, KO, and Olawale paved the way for Murray to punch in the Raiders’ first touchdown from one yard out. Later in the second, DeAndre Washington found a seam to burst through for 26 yards. It was a block by Osemele that made it possible.
Early in the third quarter, Penn blocked his man downfield to give Murray space to pick up five yards. The Raiders got a scare when Murray rolled up on the back of Penn’s ankle, causing him to limp off. But Penn being the resilient guy that he is, he was only out for one play and came back right back in. That play Johnny Holton went on an end around and there was Penn running downfield to lay a block to help spring him for a 14-yard gain. Osemele would add a block to help Murray pick up seven yards to set up the 31-yard touchdown pass from Carr to Walford.
The drive to tie the game in the fourth quarter, Penn, KO, and Olawale teamed up to open a hole on a Washington run up the gut for 8 yards and an then it was Olawale’s turn to take the rock where he had KO and Penn open up a hole for him to scoot up the middle, and break a tackle to go for 11 yards. Olawale added catches of 15 and 13 yards on the Raiders’ final drive to pull to within a score late. Too late.
Once again the offense was slow to get going. At home, against a team with a non-existent pass rush, there’s little reason that should be. The first drive ended when Carr opted for his relief valve short to Clive Walford and it was short of the sticks. The next drive ended when Carr tried to force a ball to a covered Amari Cooper and it was nearly picked off.
Come the second quarter, things started rolling. Carr connected with Crabtree over the middle for 10 yards, scrambled for 5 yards, then stepped up into the pocket and threw for ten yards to Murray. Three plays later, in third and six, he went up high to Amari Cooper over the middle who skied for a 25-yard completion. What looked to be an interception by Robert Alford in the end zone, saw Alford flagged for pass interference. With the ball at the one-yard line, the Raiders punched it in for their first score of the day.
A well-orchestrated drive at the end of the half was upended in part by a drop by Walford, but Carr still managed to move the team in the scoring position, though Janikowski missed the long field goal attempt.
The first series of the second half looked to be over quickly with Carr throwing behind Seth Roberts incomplete on third down. But a challenge on the punt resulted in a 12 men on the field penalty and Carr would get a new set of downs to work with. He made the most of the opportunity, connecting with his tight ends. He went for Lee Smith for a 12-yard gain and finished it off by throwing to Walford who was open along the left sideline for the 31-yard touchdown strike. It gave the Raiders back the lead at 14-13.
The Falcons took the lead back 21-14 late in the third, prompting the Raiders to go on another scoring drive. The yardage picked up on the drive was almost exclusively on the ground, with the final run putting the Raiders at first and goal at the 2-yard-line. A stuffed run and two incomplete passes by Carr put the Raiders in fourth and goal from the two. They opted to go for it and just as the Raiders had done when they went for two to win in the opener, Carr looked to Crabtree from two yards out for the score. After the game, Del Rio joked about having the option to go for two after that. He opted for one and the game was tied at 21-21.
The final drive, Carr took what the defense gave him. That was the short middle of the field and moved the Raiders down the field to score. The final play, he escaped the pocket, rolled right and then threw to Andre Holmes in the back of the end zone from six yards out. That was his day.
Carr finished going 34 for 45 (75%) for 299 yards, 3 touchdowns with no interceptions for a passer rating of 115.0. He added ten yards on two carries.
Michael Crabtree – Caught four passes on five targets for 31 yards and the late game-tying touchdown.
Marquette King – His first punt went 64 yards to help him average 52.8 yards per punt with 3 of his 4 punts stopped inside the 20. The one that wasn’t was returned 73 yards where he made the touchdown saving tackle (it was a horse collar penalty, but you do what you gotta do). They settled for a field goal after that.