Slow Start Dominated By Defense

Posted Oct 14, 2012

The Falcons once again didn't play the first half quite like they expected, but Atlanta's defense continued to make big plays to keep things close.

If you were expecting a certain outcome of the first half between the Raiders and the Falcons, you likely didn’t get what you were looking for.

Three first-half interceptions by Matt Ryan didn’t help anyone, but the Falcons defense continued to step up throughout the first half to hold the Raiders to 13 points.

Ryan’s early struggles gave the Raiders positive field position on offense and they were able to move the ball successfully both through the air and on the ground. Running back Darren McFadden had a few nice runs and Carson Palmer completed 75 percent of his passes for 167 yards.

Both teams traded turnovers on their opening drives, Atlanta’s force coming on a Jonathan Babineaux hit on McFadden at the Atlanta 46-yard line. Robert McClain recovered the fumble and raced for a 13 yard gain.

A Matt Bryant missed field goal on the ensuing drive continued Atlanta’s first-half troubles.

John Abraham and Babineaux combined for a huge defensive effort in the first half. Babineaux came up with a big tackle for loss in the second quarter when he stopped McFadden on third-and-1 from the Atlanta 1-yard line. The stop held Oakland to a field goal and kept Atlanta’s lead at 7-6.

The Falcons D could only do so much and Ryan’s third interception of the half gave Oakland too much field position for the defense to overcome. They allowed a 25-yard touchdown completion from Palmer to Denarius Moore to take a 13-7 lead.

It’s just the second time in Ryan’s career he’s thrown three interceptions in the first half, the other coming in 2009 against the Saints.

John Abraham added three tackles, two for a loss, and a sack in the first half.

While the interceptions have clouded Ryan’s day, he’s otherwise been very accurate. He’s 13-of-17 on the day with 151 yards. He was a perfect 7-for-7 passing on the scoring drive in the second quarter that ended with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White.

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