Oakland Raiders Lose in Atlanta, Are They a Playoff Contender?

If the Oakland Raiders were not 1-3 coming into Sunday's game against the now 6-0 Atlanta Falcons, their 23-20 heartbreaking loss might not have stung as much.

But that was the reality, making the loss feel like multiple bee stings.

Winning on Sunday would have put the Raiders right back in the thick of things in the AFC West.

The Raiders didn't play perfectly against the Falcons. They did improve, though. They were able to pressure quarterback Matt Ryan and this helped out a very thin secondary; see how that works? Don't give the quarterback all day to throw and suddenly your defensive backs don't look so vulnerable.

The Raiders' defense held up all game long while picking off Matt Ryan three times. It was able to come up with a huge stop on a 3rd-and-goal situation in the third quarter to limit the Falcons to a field goal after a Carson Palmer fumble gave them the ball at the Raiders' 2-yard line.

The Falcons reached the end zone twice, and their offense was only able to muster a 4-yard touchdown pass from Ryan to Roddy White early in the second quarter.

Asante Samuel picked off Palmer late in the fourth quarter and returned it for a touchdown for the Falcons' only touchdown of the second half.

The Raiders' defense played inspired football and this sort of effort will be needed the rest of the season.


Other than the Palmer pick, the offense also played well as it was able move the ball against a good Falcons defense. There were still some glaring deficiencies, however. The offensive line had its problems blocking John Abraham and company and committed costly holding penalties.


Run Regardless

Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Knapp stuck to the ground game, even if it was tough sledding.  Darren McFadden carried the ball 27 times for 70 tough yards, and his touchdown run late in the fourth quarter tied t...

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