On the first true day of Indian Summer in the Bay, the Oakland Raiders defense wilted away as the Atlanta Falcons passed at will against them. It's official, the Raiders pass defense just simply can't get off the field when it matters most or least. CB David Amerson, with a game changing endzone interception, can't do it all.
QB Matt Ryan drove his team up and down the coliseum grass, through baseball dirt and all, with receivers creating space and catching everything. Two batted passes by the Raiders defense had Falcons luck written all over them. One deflection was caught and run in for a Falcons touchdown, while the other was deflected and caught to convert a crucial Falcons first down.
Today the Raiders simply had what old timers call Buzzard's Luck; "can't kill nothing and nothing's dying."
On 3rd and 2yds with 7:18 left in the game, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr scrambled and found Amari Cooper for a nice sideline catch and 50+ yard run for a touchdown that, with the point after attempt, would tie the game. Then the Buzzard's Luck kicked in as the referees circled the yellow flag and gathered for the pickings. The Raiders receiver had gone out of bounds and was the first one to touch the ball. Granted he was probably pushed out by the Falcons defender, but the rule doesn't address the how or why, only the who and where. The play ends up being a loss of down penalty and the touchdown erased.
I question the calling of the next play. On 4th and 2yds the Raiders ran undersized rookie running back Jalen Richard up the middle. That short yardage play calls for a big experienced back like Latavius or Osawale, veterans. Of course they didn't get the first down and the Falcons took over on downs where they'd march right down the field and score; 35-21, Ballgame!
The Raiders offense again would show they're poise and commitment by marching quickly down field and scoring, but this shootout did not find time on the Raiders side. With 1:49 left on the game clock, the silver helmeted defensive unit couldn't stop a 3rd and 3yds Matt Ryan short pass conversion that all but ended the game. Raiders got the ball back with 0:02 seconds left. Buzzard's Luck, where nothing was dying but the Raiders chances for victory.
It all adds up to a home opener defeat for the Raiders. But for a few timely penalties against the Falcons, this game might of been much uglier for the Raiders. The offense showed some fight down the stretch and the run defense was mostly stout, but that pass defense can't cover a college team much less put continuous pressure on a quarterback.
Is it coaching? game planning? Do they need more time to jell? Or was everyone, including myself, just flat out fooled by how dominating the defense looked on paper before the start of the season. As it stands, the Raiders are still a couple years from being great.
The Falcons are a good team with a good, experienced quarterback, but I wouldn't crown them great. I wouldn't be surprised to see a shakeup in the Raiders defensive coaching staff before the bye week if opponents keep slinging the ball over and through Raiders defenders like the men wearing silver helmets are zombies in a mall. Dammit, learn how to close on a receiver and or just knock his frickin block off after the catch. Intimidate! Make them afraid to catch a pass when silver helmets are lurking about. Be a Raider for chrissakes.