The Falcons weren’t widely expected to beat the Raiders, sure, but they did so.
This is the kind of win that will take a while to digest. We were sure the Falcons were going to lose at several points during this game, and they came closer to doing so than was warranted when you look at their overall performance. Once again, dumb penalties, a handful of small mistakes, and a third quarter defensive collapse nearly put them in a hole, but they hung on. It was a big, important win for this football team, one that goes a long way toward soothing those fans who wondered if this team would win a game this year (hi, guys!)
Here’s reactions, key stats, and more from today’s game.
LIVE on #Periscope: Matt Ryan postgame press conference https://t.co/CDG6rv9swf— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) September 19, 2016
Hearing Ryan talk about how important this game was didn’t feel cliched this time. I honestly feel like Atlanta was reeling from that Tampa Bay loss, and it would’ve been easy for them to fold in this one once they went down to Oakland. The fact that they didn’t says a lot.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn said there was miscommunication on 12 man penalty with coaches... https://t.co/iuAqSsvlyj pic.twitter.com/an0cp4b4k8— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) September 19, 2016
Even on a bright day, someone was going to have to answer for a boneheaded penalty that cost the Falcons a chance to get the ball back, especially when the Raiders wound up scoring a touchdown. It turned what could have been a genuinely easy win (as easy as they come, anyways) into a nail-biter until close to the end.
This is a reasonable explanation, but the Falcons very obviously need to work on their team discipline this week, especially with the Saints coming up in primetime.
Falcons show they aren't averse to red-zone TDs in road win https://t.co/7fUUk08SST— ESPN NFL Nation (@ESPN_NFLNation) September 19, 2016
The Falcons still weren’t red zone wizards against the Raiders—three of their first four red zone drives went for field goals or turnovers—but they were improved, and they managed to put points on the board in a way they hadn’t in a good long while. That’s encouraging, even if it was against a bad defense, because New Orleans certainly doesn’t have a good defense, either.
Matt Ryan threw for 396 yards today, which is the second highest passing total he's had on the road in his career. #Falcons #ATLvsOAK— Curtis Jackson (@falconsfiddy) September 19, 2016
Great day for Ryan overall, even if he had to settle down a bit to get there after a handful of missed throws and his interception. He’s now tossed for 730 yards, 5 touchdowns, and one interception through the first two weeks of the season, and it looks like that second-year comfort level in Kyle Shanahan’s offense is coming along nicely.
Kemal Ishmael had himself a day. Ish recorded 13 tackles, led the team. #ATLvsOAK— FalconsKelsey (@FalconsKelsey) September 18, 2016
Remember Ishmael when Keanu Neal returns to the starting lineup, as he inevitably will. The veteran safety is not a great player by any stretch of the imagination, but every time he’s called upon, he’s one of the most sure-tackling, physical players on the field, and he cleaned up more than a couple of messes against the Raiders. Neal could be back by Monday Night Football against the Saints, which means Ishmael probably won’t touch these tackle numbers again this year.