Awful. Dismal. Terrible. Miserable. Those are the only words to describe the performances by the Falcons against the Oakland Raiders today. This team wasn’t ready to play. They weren’t ready at all. They severely underestimated the Raiders, especially from the one person I really didn’t expect to underestimate the Raiders.
Matt Ryan had what I believe is one of his very worst performances as a pro quarterback. There really is no excuse for what happened. I get the second interception where Ryan took an endzone shot and was picked off. And it’s hard to deliver passes when you’re getting jarred in the face by a defender. But the first interception was 100% on him. And let’s be honest, he has to make decisions to throw the ball out of bounds or shift in the pocket when he’s under as much pressure as he was today. Turnovers are really bad, and I expect a lot more of Ryan than what he displayed today. Absolutely dreadful.
I continue to not understand how the Falcons throw away red-zone opportunities. This Falcons offense has all the weapons in the world, and should have shredded the Raiders defense in all parts of the field, the red-zone included. After John Abraham forced a fumble and it was returned by Ray Edwards to the Oakland 2-yard line, it seemed apparent that the Falcons could punch the ball in, gain a lead, and then continue to extend that lead. They got their three chances, and were unable to get into the end-zone. That’s unacceptable, and the Falcons need to fix that in a hurry.
The defense wasn’t much better. I will concede the two fumble recoveries by the Falcons and the interception return by Samuel which really saved the day for the Falcons. But against an Oakland team that isn’t great on the offensive line and without truly complete receivers, the Falcons defense proceeded to give up 474 total yards, including 149 on the ground. Even Carson Palmer had a big day. The only good way to look at it is that the Raiders only got in the end-zone twice. When you look at things that way, you are generally on the losing end.
Unbelievably, the Falcons were able to win the game. I don’t know how, I don’t know what they did, but they made it happen. If there’s one thing to look at, I’d say the Falcons state of mind that on every single Sunday they go out and expect to win. They aren’t just going out and playing, hoping for a win, something they did a lot in the past. That’s what the Raiders are going out and doing, and it can be really effective to play the underdog card and just trying to get a win. But in the end, a team needs to believe in itself and it’s ability to win. Good things happen when you’re in that mindset, and I think you can really credit head coach Mike Smith for setting the tone for this team.
Ugly, ugly, ugly win. Matt Ryan was putrid statistically, the defense didn’t do much to stop the Raiders, and were it not for a couple big plays and turnovers, the Falcons don’t win this game. But don’t lose heart completely: Matt Ryan led his 19th game-winning drive. Also add another 4th quarter comeback to his resume. The defense made just enough plays go achieve victory. This bye week could not come at a better time. This is a team that needs rest and to refresh their mind desperately.