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Falcons close strong, beat Raiders 35-28

Julio Jones, Sean Smith

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) runs past Oakland Raiders cornerback Sean Smith (21) to score on a touchdown reception during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)


The Falcons had a 13-7 lead at halftime and a 21-14 lead in the third quarter, but found themselves tied at 21 with 12 minutes to go in Sunday’s game.

That can be a daunting prospect for a team playing on the road and staring at an 0-2 record, but the Falcons didn’t flinch from the situation. Matt Ryan hit Julio Jones for a 46-yard gain to set up one touchdown and the Falcons defense stopped Jack Del Rio’s latest roll of the dice when they stuffed Jalen Richard short of a first down on fourth-and-two from midfield. Another big completion to Jones set up a Tevin Coleman touchdown run and Ryan found Mohamed Sanu on a late third down conversion that iced the 35-28 win.

Ryan finished the day 26-of-34 for 396 yards and three touchdowns that did a lot to mitigate a poor throw in the end zone that was intercepted by cornerback David Amerson earlier in the game. Jones caught five passes for 106 yards and they got 139 rushing yards from the Coleman/Devonta Freeman duo. The only serious blemish on the offensive side of things on Sunday was that Jones appeared to aggravate his ankle injury late in the game. That will be worth watching as the week unfolds and the Falcons turn their attention toward a road game in New Orleans.

The Raiders will need to turn their attention to the defensive side of the ball as they have now allowed 1,035 total yards in first two games. Per Chase Stuart of Football Perspective, that breaks a record for most yards allowed in the first two weeks of a season that the 1951 New York Yankees held for the last 65 years.

If they can’t fix those issues, their offensive prowess isn’t likely to be enough to end their long playoff drought.