The Atlanta Falcons obliterated the Las Vegas Raiders at home, and the plaudits abound — especially on defense. The offense didn’t really join the party until the second half, but all’s well that ends well, right?
Here’s Hat tips & Head-scratchers for Atlanta’s win over Las Vegas.
Foye Oluokun’s strip-sack fumble
Pro Bowl-bound? He’s absolutely deserving. Foyesade Oluokun has been a regular in the hat tips section of this feature almost each and every week since the season started, and he continued his exceptional work early on Sunday.
On Las Vegas’s second possession in the game, Oluokun burst through a gap in the defensive line and smothered Derek Carr, forcing the fumble and setting Atlanta up to put more points on the board on the turnover recovery.
It was his fourth forced fumble of the year. Get this man to the Pro Bowl, ya’ll.
Jacob Tuioti-Mariner creates the turnover
Sensing a trend? The defense carried the load in the first half of this one, and it included a clutch contribution from Tuioti-Mariner, a development defensive end who has impressed in action this year.
There have been some big plays from unlikely names this season, but the Falcons should prioritize bringing JTM back for an increased workload in 2021. Near the end of the first half, Tuioti-Mariner muscled his way around the right side of the defensive line for the strip-sack fumble and the recovery. The Falcons took over, and courtesy of another field goal kick by Younghoe Koo, entered the locker room with a 16-3 lead.
Deion Jones’ pick-six
With the Falcons defense facing a short field situation after the Raiders got a hand on Sterling Hofrichter’s punt, there was a collective sense that the Third Quarter Bad Times were starting. Deion Jones nope’d that energy right out of the universe by snagging a low pass by Derek Carr and taking it to the house for the fifth pick-six in his career.
That took the score to 23-3 and lit the fuse that led to Atlanta’s onslaught in the second half.
Mykal Walker’s breakout game
The Falcons have a potential Pro Bowler in linebacker Foyesade Oluokun, and Sunday’s game against the Raiders highlighted another potential diamond in the rough on the linebacking corps: fourth-round rookie Mykal Walker.
Per PFF, Walker posted an 89.9 overall grade, and added an 81.9 grade in coverage on 27 snaps. He was around the football all game, and it’s looking like the Falcons have a daunting trifecta of playmakers in their linebacking group for the foreseeable future.
Ricardo Allen lays the wood
Rico channeled some Gandalfian “You shall not pass” energy midway through the third quarter, laying a hit on Hunter Renfrow to deny what seemed like a would-be touchdown.
On 2nd & 10 on Atlanta’s 20-yard-line, Derek Carr took a shot to Renfrow over the middle which looked caught and destined for the end zone — until Ricardo Allen lowered the shoulder and jarred the ball loose. Clutch play.
A sleepy first half on offense happened in part due to the early drops. Wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus was responsible for the most glaring of those, letting a pass slip right through his hands in the first quarter that would have gone for six. He slipped on another touchdown attempt later in the series.
Tight end Hayden Hurst also had his share of bobbles — most notably the first quarter pass that hit him right in the chest and led to an interception.
This man must have an allergy to early downs. Yes, the Falcons plastered the Raiders, but they did it in spite of Dirk Koetter and his stewardship of the offense.