The Raiders almost pulled off the upset over Atlanta on Sunday. It was a hard fought game against a tough opponent.
The first half was dominated by the Raiders in rushing, passing, time of possession, turnovers and the score. The team was playing great on offense, defense and special teams. You can tell the coaches did their homework because they were ready to play.
The defense hadn't had an interception through the first 4 games, but they picked Matt Ryan off three times in the first half. Hanson had a sweet pick undercutting the route perfectly, Huff saved a touchdown with his pick and a hit by Philip Wheeler caused Ryan's pass to float into Branch's outstretched hands as if he were fielding a punt.
The offense was clicking better this week and there was good pass distribution to the receivers. The running game was a little better working both Goodson and McFadden. The receivers were constantly extending plays by twisting and turning away from defenders. It was exciting to see them play with heart keeping drives alive. And while the running game didn't average well again this week, there were a few breakout plays that give me a little hope for the new scheme.
Unfortunately, the penalties killed us. Right back to 'normal' at 12 for 110 yards. A few of those penalties gave the Falcons a new set of downs which has always been the bane of our existance. Carson Palmer's pick-6 was the nail in the coffin.
All in all, you have to feel encouraged on how well the team played even in a loss. As Raider fans we know that the team tends to play to the level of their opponents, showing up for tough games when the pundits say there is no chance. But there is a stretch of three winnable games coming up, so I hope the team is as prepared as they were on Sunday.
The victory in this defeat was the Raiders playing strong through 4 quarters and not giving up until the game was over. There is hope for a respectable season.