Sometimes, all it takes is one big play in the NFL to win a game. According to ESPN, the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Oakland Raiders by a score of 35-28. It was a huge deflected interception by Justin Hardy in the fourth quarter that turned the tide. The play enabled the Falcons to hold on to the victory.
To their credit, the Oakland Raiders attempted some late-game heroics in order to try to get the victory. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr threw a 51-yard touchdown to wide receiver Amari Cooper. The two of them are expected to produce a lot more memorable moments over the next couple of seasons.
All of that aside, the attention will remain on the Oakland Raiders defense. The team is supposed to have a dominant unit that strikes fear into the heart of opposing teams in the NFL. Management spent a ton of money to build the defense.
Unfortunately, though, things have not worked out for the Oakland Raiders. The defense has given up more than 500 yards during each of the first two games of the NFL regular season. That is not something that they had in mind when they wrote out big paychecks during the free agency period.
Atlanta Falcons starting quarterback Matt Ryan in the past was considered one of the more talented passers in the NFL. Against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, he completed 26 of 34 passes. Ryan pulled in 396 yards of passing while also collecting three touchdown passes. The Raiders made Ryan look like a Hall of Fame player.
On the ground, the Atlanta Falcons were able to do as they pleased against the Oakland Raiders. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for 139 yards rushing. By being able to do that, it made it easier for Matt Ryan and the wide receivers to have free rein in the passing game.
One of the saving graces for the Oakland Raiders was the fact that their offensive line was able to dominate. Management threw out some good money to make sure that the unit would be good enough to compete against the Dallas Cowboys as the best blockers in the NFL.
Against the Atlanta Falcons, the Oakland Raiders were able to put up 150 yards rushing, which is pretty impressive in the NFL. Offensive line coach Mike Tice, considered one of the best in the business, was able to rotate players and created some cohesion.
Many believed that the Oakland Raiders were going to be built around the passing game. Derek Carr has established himself as a quality NFL quarterback. He has Amari Cooper and veteran wide receiver Michael Crabtree. However, the Raiders thus far have been relying on their running game.
Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio has never been one to shy away from taking responsibility for things. With the team being defeated by the Atlanta Falcons, Del Rio told the media that all the blame needs to be placed upon his shoulders because he is the guy in charge.
The NFL is still early. The Oakland Raiders were predicted to be one of the top teams and a staunch challenger to make it to the Super Bowl. With just two games in the record books, there is still a great chance that the Raiders can turn things around and become the dominant team that they were expected to be.
Losing to the Atlanta Falcons does not mean that the season is a complete loss for the Oakland Raiders. A lot of things can still happen between now and the Super Bowl.
[Featured Image by Thearon W Henderson/Getty Images]