OAKLAND, Calif. — On a day dominated by the offenses, a fortunate bounce was the difference.
Justin Hardy caught a deflected 8-yard touchdown pass to break a tie midway through the fourth quarter and the Atlanta Falcons held on to beat the Oakland Raiders 35-28 on Sunday.
“Sometimes you need a little luck, right?” said quarterback Matt Ryan, who threw for 396 yards and three TDs. “For us, we talk about, in our building all the time, good things happen to people who run. Hardy was busting his tail on the back side and ended up being in the right spot at the right time, and it ended up being a huge play for us. That was a good bounce.”
Ryan’s third-down throw to Tevin Coleman was broken up, but the ball bounced high in the air and Hardy caught it in the end zone to put Atlanta (1-1) up 28-21.
“Sometimes the ball doesn’t go your way, the bounces don’t go your way,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said.
The Raiders (1-1) appeared to tie the game on the next drive when Amari Cooper caught a 51-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr. But Desmond Trufant pushed Cooper went out of bounds before he came back in to make the catch and officials ruled the contact was legal because Carr was out of the pocket.
“I can have my hands on him and I pushed him out,” Trufant said. “That’s Day 1 for DBs. Push him out of bounds, he can’t touch the ball. So I knew the play was over . for him at least.”
Del Rio then decided to go for it on fourth-and-2, but Jalen Richard was stopped on a 1-yard gain.
Del Rio had successfully gone on fourth-and-goal earlier in the game, leading to a 2-yard TD pass to Michael Crabtree , and went for a late 2-point conversion to beat New Orleans 35-34 last week in the season opener.
But this latest gamble proved costly as Atlanta added an insurance touchdown on a 13-yard touchdown run by Tevin Coleman to deny the Raiders their first 2-0 start since their 2002 AFC championship season.
BAD D: The Raiders allowed 528 yards of offense, becoming the first team since the 1967 Falcons to give up at least 500 yards in each of the first two games of the season, according to Pro Football Reference. Oakland has allowed 1,035 yards through two games, the worst mark ever. Del Rio said he takes the blame.
“I take it way more personally than him because it’s my defense and it’s a shame,” defensive lineman Khalil Mack said. “It’s a hurtful feeling.”
RELIABLE TARGETS: Ryan frequently found his tight ends for big gains, completing 10 passes for 180 yards and a TD to Jacob Tamme , Austin Hooper and Levine Toilolo.
REPRIEVE: The Falcons appeared to stop the Raiders on the opening drive of the second half before a bonehead penalty gave Oakland a second chance. Atlanta had 12 men on the field on the punt and Oakland got a first down when Del Rio challenged the play and officials ruled Dashon Goldson didn’t get off the field in time. Four plays later, Carr found Clive Walford for a 31-yard TD pass that put the Raiders up 14-13.
RED ZONE SWING: The Falcons moved the ball fairly easily early in the game, but struggled to punch it in the end zone. The team’s first three trips into the red zone ended in a pair of short field goals and an interception. Ryan twice completed third-down passes inside the 5 that came up short of the end zone, leading to field goals by Matt Bryant. In the third quarter, Ryan was late on a pass in the end zone to an open Jacob Tamme and David Amerson intercepted it . The Falcons then scored TDs on their next three red zone trips.
FIRST SACK: After getting just 19 sacks last season for the fewest in the NFL since 2009 and getting none in the opener, the Falcons got their first of the season against Carr. Vic Beasley forced Carr out of the pocket and Carr ran out of bounds for no gain, which officially counts as a sack. It was also the first allowed by Oakland this season.