The ball bounced the right way for the Falcons against the Oakland Raiders.
A couple of tipped passes ended up as receptions and the Falcons solved their red-zone issues to power their way to a 35-28 NFL victory against the Raiders on Sunday at Oakland Alameda-Coliseum.
Both teams are 1-1.
“We knew it was going to be a tough fight,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “It was a tough environment to play in.”
The Falcons, after a slow start, scored on three consecutive red-zone possessions to open a double-digit lead with 4:35 left to play.
“I was pleased with the fight, the attitude and the mindset that we have collectively as a team,” Quinn said. “This is a very strong brotherhood this team has. That will carry us a long way.”
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan competed 26 of 34 passes for 396 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
“I felt that we got into a nice rhythm today,” Ryan said. “Once we kind of found our stride, we kept going and were doing really well. We did a better job in the red zone today.”
Running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman had strong games as the Falcons rushed for more than 100 yards for the first time over the past seven games dating to last season. Freeman rushed 17 times for 91 yards and Coleman rushed for 46 yards on 12 carries and scored on a key 13-yard run.
Wide receiver Julio Jones added five catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Here are the five things we learned from the victory:
1. Red-zone wonders. The Falcons were 3 of 6 in the red zone. The six trips inside the Raiders’ 20-yard line netted the three touchdowns, two field goals and one dreadful end-zone interception.
On third-and-4 from the 5-yard line, the Falcons motioned wide receiver Mohamed Sanu across the formation and threw a 2-yard pass to him. He was tackled and the Falcons had to settle for a 21-yard field goal.
After tight end Levine Toilolo caught a 16-yard pass to move the Falcons to the 11, the Falcons didn’t attempt a pass to Jones, the All-Pro wide receiver, who caught 136 passes last season. With seven minutes left in the first quarter, Jones had only one pass thrown his way.
Later, after the Raiders took a 14-13 lead, Ryan was intercepted by Oakland’s David Amerson in the end zone.
With 3:42 left in the third quarter, Ryan tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Tamme. He scored the two-point conversion on a quarterback draw to put the Falcons up 21-14.
After the Raiders tied the game at 21, the Falcons answered with a 8-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Justin Hardy. The pass bounced off running back Tevin Coleman and ricocheted to Hardy in the end zone.
Coleman scored on a powerful 13-yard run with 4:41 left to play.
2. No-huddle attack has mixed results. The Falcons opened the game in the no-huddle offense. Overall, the Falcons ran 16 plays out of the no-huddle attack in the first half and got mixed results.
The first drive of the game stalled after right tackle Ryan Schraeder was called for offsides on their fifth no-huddle play of the game.
The Falcons didn’t go into the no-huddle on their second possession.
On the third possession, Ryan operated out of the no-huddle with the plays being signaled in from the sideline. The drive – which included seven no-huddle plays — stalled at the 4 and the Falcons settled for a 21-yard field goal by Matt Bryant to make it 3-0.
The Falcons ran the no-huddle four more plays on their next possession. Out of the no-huddle, Ryan tossed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones to wrest back the lead from Raiders 10-7.
The Falcons ran the no-huddle attack three times in the opener against Tampa Bay.
“We talk about it all the time,” Ryan said. “Some weeks it’s an advantage for us. This week we felt like it was because they’ve got some big guys on that defensive front. We did a great job with the tempo and we ran the ball really well.”
3. 12 men on the field. With the Falcons up 3-0, they gave up their lead with a penalty-aided 91-yard touchdown drive.
Cornerback Robert Alford intercepted a deep pass intended for wide receiver Michael Crabtree, but Alford was called for pass interference. Oakland running back Latavius Murray scored on a 1-yard run to make it 7-3.
On a punt play in the third quarter, the Falcons were about to receive the ball, but were called for having 12 men on the field. Backup safety Dashon Goldson was called for the penalty. He thought he was in and that Justin Hardy was out. Quinn called it a miscommunication.
Five plays later, Raiders quarterback David Carr tossed a 31-yard touchdown pass to tight end Clyde Walford to put the Raiders up 14-13. Walford got behind Falcons backup linebacker Philip Wheeler, who was in the game because rookie De’Vondre Campbell was inactive with an ankle injury.
4. Weems’ wasted return. With the Falcons up 10-7, they wasted Eric Weems’ 73-yard punt return. After he was pulled down by Oakland punter Marquette King on a horse-collar tackle, the Falcons had the ball at the 9 and couldn’t punch it in.
After two 3-yard runs by Coleman, the Falcon sent Coleman in motion and tossed him a pass with three blockers in front of him, but he slipped and was tackled. Bryant added a 20-yard field.
5. Drive time. The Falcons’ defense has given up touchdown drives — four of them aided by penalties — of 75, 75, 75, 92, 91, 81, 75 and 75 yards in only two games.