By the Numbers: Oakland Raiders vs. Atlanta Falcons
By the Numbers: Oakland Raiders vs. Atlanta Falcons
The Oakland Raiders may have shocked the world by being tied with the Atlanta Falcons so late in the game. However, the result was the same for the Raiders, who lost for the fourth time this season, albeit in atypically close fashion.
The stats favored the Raiders, who had nearly 200 yards more than the Falcons and outrushed them by 104 yards. Oakland had 149 yards on the ground, which is impressive for the worst rushing team in the NFL. Carson Palmer had a solid day with 353 yards and a touchdown through the air. He completed 23-of-33 passes, but he had two turnovers, a fumble and an interception which led to 10 points for Atlanta.
Oakland’s passing defense was terrible coming into the game, but the Raiders held the seventh-best passing attack to 249 yards and picked off Matt Ryan three times. The run defense was sensational limiting the Falcons to 45 yards on the ground. It was a much improved effort from a much maligned unit, but it was still not enough for Oakland to overcome itself and win the game.
The Raiders ran more plays and held the ball longer than the Falcons, but still lost the game. This game confounded many stereotypes about how to win a football game, but there are still five numbers that can tell us why the Falcons beat the Raiders. Between the yellow laundry on the field and the crucial turnover late in the game, the Raiders lost the game more than the Falcons won it.
0- Catches by Darrius Heyward-Bey
Palmer targeted the receiver two times, but that is not enough for a top-flight wideout. The Raiders don't have enough weapons not to try and find their playmaker more than twice in a game. Oakland may have other good receivers, but nobody on Heyward-Bey's level. To get a player of his caliber back in the lineup should have been a huge boost and in some ways it was. However, he is a big target and playmaker down the field and Palmer needs to use him in the offense more often. It's tough to win when you don't get your playmakers involved and the Raiders could have had a more explosive offense if they incorporated Heyward-Bey more.
3- Sacks by John Abraham
It seems like the Raiders' offensive line could not find an answer for Abraham. He had five tackles, but his three hits on Carson Palmer killed drives. Abraham forced a fumble, knocked the Raiders out of field goal range and ended a promising drive in the fourth quarter. The most disturbing part for Oakland is that the Falcons went after what was supposed to be the good side of the offensive line. The offensive line has been good at protecting Palmer so far this season, but in a game this close all the small mistakes get magnified. The sacks may not have been as big of an issue if it wasn’t the same player getting to Palmer every time.
12- Penalties on the Oakland Raiders
A year after being the most penalized team in NFL history, the Raiders had done a much better job at staying away from the flags. However, they regressed Sunday and lost 110 yards to penalties, killing drives and momentum all during the game. It wasn’t the number of penalties that cost the Raiders, but when it happened. It brought back a couple of big runs and kept some Atlanta drives alive. Some did not hurt the Raiders, but you can’t expect to win a game with 12 penalties. In a game as close as this one, penalties can be the difference and on Sunday it was a factor for Oakland.
55- Distance of Matt Bryant's Winning Field Goal
There are no more important numbers than this one because it won the game. The field goal is difficult enough without the pressure of the game on the line, but Bryant proved to be a true professional and sent it through the uprights. This is nothing against the Raiders because quite frankly Oakland would have taken Atlanta needing to hit a 55-yarder for the win if the Raiders were given the option. However, since this one field goal decided the game, it’s only fair to include it as a number that tells the story of why Oakland lost to Atlanta.
79- Distance of Asante Samuel's Interception Return
Palmer made one major mistake all day and it was a huge momentum shift. The Raiders were driving in a tie game, but one pass to the wrong target ended up with six points for the Falcons. It may not have been the difference in the game and Oakland did respond with a touchdown on the next drive, but the game turned with that throw. The Raiders probably would have scored on the drive and maybe held on for the win, but the interception forced Oakland into catch up mode and put pressure on it to tie a game it should have been leading.
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