The Raiders came within a foot – Amari Cooper’s – of beating the Atlanta Falcons Sunday to start this season 2-0 for the first time since 2002.
Instead, Oakland had to settle for a disappointing 35-28 loss.
In the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum, the Raiders were trailing the Falcons 28-21 when quarterback Derek Carr connected with Cooper on an apparent 51-yard scoring pass. But the touchdown was waived off because Cooper stepped out of bounds and came back in to catch the pass. The Raiders then failed to get a first down, coming up a yard short on a fourth-down play, turning the ball over to the Falcons at the 50-yard line.
From there, Atlanta drove for a touchdown to go up 35-21 with less than 5 minutes to go in the game.
The Raiders made it close, climbing to within 35-28 with 2:12 to go when Andre Holmes capped a 75-yard drive, catching a 6-yard TD pass from Carr.
But the Raiders, needing a stop to get the ball back, gave up a first down to the Falcons, who finally gave the ball back to Oakland with just two seconds remaining.
Once again, the Raiders offense was dangerous, but the defense was disappointing.
The Raiders allowed Matt Ryan to throw for 396 yards and three TDs and gave up more than 500 yards for the second straight game in 2016. The Falcons also rushed for 139 yards, with Devonta Freeman getting 93. The Raiders – who hoped to have a potent pass rush with Bruce Irvin added to Khalil Mack on the defensive front – sacked Ryan just once.
The Falcons also had some good luck, scoring one TD by Justin Hardy in the fourth quarter when a short Ryan pass intended for Tevin Coleman was batted into the air, then fell into Hardy’s hands as he crossed the goal line.
Carr again was terrific, putting up a quarterback rating of 114.1 by completing 33-of-44 throws for 283 yards, three TDs and no interceptions. Plus, six different ballcarriers amassed 155 yards on the ground, with Latavius Murray (57) and DeAndre Washington (46) leading the way. But the defense, which also had trouble stopping Drew Brees and the Saints in Game 1, again struggled.
The Raiders will try to get their second win this coming Sunday when they visit Tennessee to play the Titans. Kickoff will be at 10 a.m. at the Coliseum.