OAKLAND, Calif. — Once Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons offense got going, the Oakland Raiders struggled to stop them.
Ryan threw for 396 yards and three touchdowns with help from a fortunate bounce, and the Falcons bounced back from a home loss to open the season by beating the Raiders 35-28 on Sunday.
After being forced to punt on the first two drives of the game, the Falcons (1-1) scored on seven of their next eight possessions against a struggling Oakland defense to spoil the home opener for the Raiders (1-1).
“Once we kind of found our stride, we kept going and played really well,” Ryan said. “We did a better job in the red zone today. Still have some opportunities to continue to improve, areas we can get better. But, for the most part, I thought our guys played really well today.”
The Falcons ran the ball effectively with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combining for 139 yards on the ground, got a typical big day from star receiver Julio Jones, who had five catches for 106 yards and a score , and then got lucky at a key spot in the fourth quarter.
With the game tied and Atlanta facing a third down, Ryan’s pass to Coleman was broken up. But the ball popped up in the air and went right to Justin Hardy in the end zone for 8-yard score that gave the Falcons the lead for good.
That helped erase the bad feeling from last week’s 31-24 loss at home to Tampa Bay .
“We were all disappointed in the way that we started, so we went to work last week,” tight end Jacob Tamme said. “We were coming out here, big, long trip. Big trip to the West Coast, playing a team that was on a high after what they did last week, so I thought it was heck of a win, a great way to get on the right track.”
Here are some other takeaways from the Falcons’ win:
STRUGGLING D: For a second straight week, Oakland’s revamped defense struggled to stop anyone. After allowing 507 yards in a 35-34 win at New Orleans , the Raiders gave up 528 yards to the Falcons. It’s the most yards allowed through two games since at least 1940, according to Pro Football Reference. Coach Jack Del Rio pulled linebacker Ben Heeney in the second half after doing the same to cornerback Sean Smith a week ago and also took over play-calling duties late in the game from coordinator Ken Norton Jr.
“I’m speechless,” linebacker Bruce Irvin said. “I’ve never experienced this experience. Until everybody makes a full commitment to turning this thing around we’re going to be a subpar defense.”
NO HUDDLE: Atlanta frequently employed a no-huddle offense that left the Raiders defense scrambling at times. The Falcons went no-huddle on more than 25 plays, including TD passes to Jones and Tamme .
“We did a great job with the tempo — it was effective for us,” Ryan said. “I thought we ran the ball extremely well out of no-huddle and also, we hit some big shots down the field. Going sideline to sideline with all the key plays that we did, I really thought it was effective for us.”
EFFICIENT OFFENSE: With Oakland’s defense struggling, there is even more pressure on quarterback Derek Carr and the offense to pick up the slack. The Raiders have scored 63 points and gained 940 yards through two games without committing any turnovers. Carr went 34 for 45 for 299 yards and three TDs against the Falcons.
“The great thing about this team is we’re not going to be pulled apart,” Carr said. “We understand the situation. We understand what’s going on. There’s nothing that’s going to divide us, at all.”
TARGETING TIGHT ENDS: Ryan frequently found his tight ends for big gains, completing 10 passes for 180 yards and a TD to Tamme, Austin Hooper and Levine Toilolo. Covering tight ends was a major issue for the Raiders last season and is a problem that hasn’t been solved yet. Oakland will get a tough test next week against Tennessee’s Delanie Walker.
“I don’t think there were any physical mismatches out there,” Del Rio said. “It was a matter of guys having their eyes where they’re supposed to be and knowing what the heck they’re doing.”