Red Zone Emphasis Pays Off:Atlanta's first three red zone opportunities ended in two field goals and a turnover. The next three, on the other hand, were considerably more effective: The Falcons scored a touchdown on each of their next three trips inside the 20 — two through the air, one on the ground. Justin Hardy caught the second of these TDs, his first as a pro, coming down with the ball after it deflected off Coleman.
The Falcons have spent a lot of time working on their red zone offense, and that effort paid dividends in Week 2.
Run Game Ignited: The Falcons got their ground attack rolling in Oakland, as Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman notched 93 and 46 rushing yards, respectively. Coleman added a touchdown, too, a 13-yard sprint-and-dive, which proved to be the game-winner. By gaining 4.8 yards per carry, Atlanta's RBs were able to keep the offense balanced. This, in turn, kept some heat off Matt Ryan, and it kept Oakland's defense — which registered just one sack — at bay.
Julio, Tight Ends Thrive:Despite a nagging ankle injury, and despite a relatively slow start, Julio Jones turned in a tremendous performance, earning 106 yards and a touchdown. His most explosive play of the afternoon came in the fourth quarter, when he caught a 46-yard pass that, ultimately, set up Hardy's score.
Atlanta's tight ends came through, as well. Jacob Tamme tallied five catches for 75 yards and a 14-yard touchdown; Austin Hooper, playing in just his second regular season contest, finished with 84 receiving yards on three receptions — the longest being a 44-yard catch in the second half.
All three of these pass-catchers were buoyed by a stellar outing from Matt Ryan, who completed 26 of 34 passes for 396 yards and three TDs. Those numbers gave him a 131.5 passer rating, his highest since Week 3 of 2014.
Ryan's one costly blemish of the day was an interception thrown in the end zone, but he more than made up for that mistake by gashing Oakland's defense on a regular basis.
Weems Comes Up Big:Eric Weems made the biggest special teams highlight of the regular season when he ran a punt 73 yards to Oakland's 18. A horse collar penalty moved the ball up to the nine-yard line, and four plays later, Matt Bryant kicked what would become a crucial field goal.
Penalties an On-Going Issue: After taking seven penalties against Tampa, discipline was once again an issue Sunday. Altogether, officials called seven penalties on Atlanta; Oakland gained 73 extra yards as a result. The most devastating infraction was, unquestionably, a pass interference call on Robert Alford: Though he caught an interception in the end zone, he pushed off Michael Crabtree before hauling in the pass, which gave Oakland the ball at Atlanta's one-yard line. The Raiders added six points on the ensuing play.
The Falcons' D also gifted Oakland a first down by having 12 men on the field during a punt. The Raiders took advantage by marching downfield and scoring another TD on that possession.