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.
Matt Ryan threw three TD passes, but got a little lucky on the go-ahead one in the fourth quarter. His 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.
The Raiders (1-1) appeared to have tied the game on the next drive when Amari Cooper caught a 51-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr.
But officials ruled Cooper went out of bounds voluntarily before making the catch, although the Raiders contended he was pushed by Desmond Trufant.
Oakland coach Jack 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 for it 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.
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 recording 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.