San Francisco 49ers podcast with Joe Lami: Will loss to the Falcons be something Niners can shake off?

Photo credit: nbcsports.com

On the 49ers podcast with Joe:

#1 After a close loss to the Atlanta Falcons, will there be much recovery for the 49ers coming off the loss mentally and physically?

#2 Close contest as Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had himself an afternoon throwing against the 49ers defense throwing 25 for 39 for 210 yards but the key play for Ryan was his five-yard pass to Julio Jones for the gamer.

#3 Injuries are insurmountable against the 49ers, but cornerback Richard Sherman (hamstring) and nickle corner K’Waun Williams (concussion) are both scheduled to return to practice after they sat on the sidelines last Sunday.

#4 With defensive end Dee Ford (hamstring) out for the rest of the season, the 49ers were trying to acquire pass rusher Terrell Suggs, a seven-time Pro Bowler. Suggs was snapped up by the Kansas City Chiefs.

#5 The 49ers have four players going to the Pro Bowl in edge rusher Nick Bosa, Sherman, tight end George Kittle, and fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

Joe Lami does the 49ers podcasts each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

San Francisco 49ers preview: Rams Seek Revenge While Niners Need to Get On Track

file photo from 49erswebzone.com: 49ers corner Richard Sherman (left) and tight end George Kittle (right) pose for a selfie with fans

By: Joe Lami

SANTA CLARA — The Niners stumbled in a trap game, yet still, control their own destiny to the NFC one-seed. If they win out, they take the top seed. A loss to the Rams before the NFC West winner-take-all matchup with the Seahawks would give home-field to either Green Bay or New Orleans. Even with a loss this week, San Francisco would win the NFC West with a win in Seattle, thanks to a tiebreaker.

The importance of retaining the #1 seed is crucial for San Francisco. Three of the five 49ers’ Super Bowl victories came when they were the top-seed in the conference.

The good news for San Francisco is they are beginning to get healthier. Both Richard Sherman and K’Waun Williams are set to return this Sunday after missing Sunday’s loss. The return of Sherman will be important to get him game time before next weekend’s gauntlet in Seattle. Guard, Mike Person is listed as questionable, fighting a neck injury. Jaquiski Tart (broken ribs) and Dee Ford (quad, hamstring) are listed as out.

The Niners will use this matchup against the Rams to get back on track. San Francisco’s won five of their last eight games against LA, including this year’s week four 20-7 win.

In that win, San Francisco’s defense completely shut down Jared Goff, allowing only 78 passing yards on 24 attempts. The Niners shutout the Rams on third-down, holding them to 0-for-9. The offense was just okay, as Garoppolo threw for 243 yards, 101 of them were caught by George Kittle, of course. Even though Jimmy didn’t throw a TD, he rushed one in San Francisco’s second touchdown of the afternoon.

The Rams have been Jekyll and Hyde this season, looking great at times, beating the Seahawks and Saints, but then getting boat raced by the Cowboys.

Kyle Shanahan mentioned last week about preparing for Atlanta’s Super Bowl. His team didn’t answer, and they’ll face another desperate team this week. LA’s playoff hopes have pretty much gone up in smoke, as they need to win out and pray for a miracle that Minnesota doesn’t beat the Packers or Bears. They hold the final tiebreaker over the Vikings.

His team will need to be ready for everything that the Rams will bring. Todd Gurley has been much more active these last three weeks, nearly totaling 200 yards and three touchdowns. He was inactive when the Niners completely shut down the Rams in week six, expect him to get a lot of carries on Saturday.

Jared Goff is currently fourth in the NFL in passing yards, just shy of 4,000. His 17-15 TD to INT ratio is shocking, however, and can be taken advantage of a hungry 49ers’ defense.

The Niners offense fell back to earth last week, scoring just 22 points. After the best month of his career, Garoppolo finished with 200 yards and a touchdown for a 90.3 rating, the lowest in the last five games. It was also the second-lowest in the last eight weeks. TLDR, Garoppolo has been one of the best QBs in the second half of the season.

If the Niners can contain Gurley, and get to Goff, like they did four times already this year, they should be able to slow down LA’s offense. Meanwhile, their defense is susceptible to the run. Breida only had four carries last week, while Raheem Mostert had 14. Mostert’s been excellent these past few weeks, giving the Niners a multi-headed monster in the backfield.

San Francisco 49ers podcast with David Zizmor: Will the 49ers’ 7-point loss burn into their psyche going forward?

Photo credit: mercurynews.com

On the 49ers podcast with David:

#1 The 49ers clinched a playoff spot Sunday but not before they lost to the Atlanta Falcons 29-22. Is this a loss that should concern the 49ers?

#2 There’s a breakdown in the game plan that allowed Atlanta to get back into the game and all the Falcons’ Julio Jones had to do was score on a five-yard pass to end it and give the 49ers their third loss of 2019.

David Zizmor does the 49ers podcasts each Tuesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

San Francisco 49ers game report: Ryan’s five-yard pass to Jones gets Falcons by 49ers 29-22

photo from sfgate.com: Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) sits next to the goal line after scoring against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019.

By Barbara Mason

On Sunday afternoon, the San Francisco Forty Niners took on the Atlanta Falcons at Levi Stadium. While most looked at this game as a walkover, we do have to remember that midseason the Falcons beat the New Orleans Saints. This is a league of “any given Sundays” and no team can be taken for granted.

Jimmy Garoppolo has been exceptional as has been the San Francisco defense so signs point to their 14th win of the season. A win today will mean a playoff berth for the team. This Sunday will mark the first time in nearly three years that quarterback Matt Ryan and Coach Kyle Shanahan have been on the same field. Shanahan and Ryan had a dream season prior to the devastating loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI. Atlanta is a 10 1/2 point underdog

The first quarter was a defensive effort by both teams. Matt Ryan would finish the quarter with 15 yards and Garoppolo would finish with 26 yards. The quarter would end with neither team finding the end zone although San Francisco was threatening deep in Atlanta territory.

The 49ers would start the second quarter with a Mostert rush for two yards and the first touchdown of the game giving San Francisco a 7-0 lead.. When it looked like the 49ers were taking control of the game, Matt Ryan would find Julio Jones for 5 yards and the touchdown to tie up the game at 7.

The Falcons were not finished. On their next drive Atlanta settled for a 43 yard Younghoe Koo field goal and the 10-3 lead. San Francisco would go to work with two minutes left in the half. Although unable to score the touchdown, San Francisco kicker Robbie Gould would kick a 22 yards field goal to tie up the game at the half 10-10.

Midway through the third quarter the teams remained tied at 10. That’s when it appeared that San Francisco was finally making their move. Robbie Gould kicked a 46 yard field goal taking a 13-10 lead. It was the fourth quarter that proved to be their undoing.

San Francisco scored a Garoppolo to Juszczyk touchdown from two yards out and the 49ers had their second score in a row for a 19-10 lead. Gould would miss the extra point. Atlanta answered and scored a touchdown with 5 minutes left. This game became very tight in the closing minutes 19-17. Robbie Gould would kick a successful 43 yard field goal to extend the 49ers lead 22-17. There was only 1:48 left on the clock.

When it looked like another San Francisco win, Matt Ryan would drive downfield and finish with a 5 yard pass Julio Jones for the go ahead touchdown 23-22. Their two point conversion attempt would fail. With seconds left on the clock a fumble return by the Falcons to score a touchdown gave them the win 29-22.

San Francisco had lost their third game of the season and dropped into a Wild Card spot in a real shocker. As I said “any given Sunday”!

San Francisco 49ers podcast with Joe Lami: 49ers looking to replace DJ Jones with Day as injuries pile up

Photo credit: ninernoise.com

On the 49ers podcast with Joe:

#1 For the 49ers, injuries are a big part of life. Their latest is with nose tackle DJ Jones, who has an ankle injury that most likely will end his season.

#2 Defensive tackle Forest Buckner said that Jones is “irreplaceable”.

#3 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week. Garoppolo’s the first 49er to get the award in six seasons.

#4 The 49ers’ Sheldon Day, who has 228 snaps this season, could be the most likely choice to replace Jones.

#5 The 49ers host the Atlanta Falcons, who are in last place in the NFC South at 4-9.

Join Joe Lami each Friday for the 49ers podcasts at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

 

 

A written prescription for tonight’s game from the Fantasy Football Doctors

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By doctors Charlie O. Mallonee, Vasu Vaddiparty and Jordan Chapin

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Atlanta Falcons
QB
If you drafted Matt Ryan, you drafted him as a number one QB. Of course, you are going to start him versus the Eagles tonight. Just don’t have too high of expectations for his production. Most of the predictions have him passing for 230 to 240 yards with up to two TD’s. Expect approximately 20 completions.

RB
Devonta Freeman was a Top 10 pick in most Fantasy Leagues, so he’s starting for you tonight. Again, do not get too excited because the projections for his production are not great. Many have Freeman rushing for under 50 yards. The experts say chances of Freeman scoring a touchdown are minimal.

WR
Yes, you are going to start Julio Jones. If you don’t start him, we are going to make you turn in your Fantasy Football membership card. Again, the projections are not great. The prediction is for 75 yards receiving with an outside chance of catching a touchdown.

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Philadelphia Eagles
QB
If you have Nick Foles as your starting QB tonight, it probably means you picked Carson Wentz hoping he would be ready to go tonight. Well, you are going to have to wait at least until game three for Wentz so Foles is your man until then. He is projected for 240 yards versus the Falcons with two touchdowns.

RB
Jay Ajayi will be the main man carrying the rock for the Eagles. Look for him to run for about 80 yards in the game.

TE
Zach Ertz was a fantasy football assassin in the second half of the season last yerar. If you have him on your roster, he is a must play.

Game Projections
FiveThirtyEight.com gives the Eagles a 65-percent chance of winning tonight’s game. They make Philadelphia the favorite -4.5 points.

The Fantasy Football Doctors Podcast will be available Friday afternoon on sportsradioservice.com

Sports Monday: The NFL Playoffs never lacks excitement

Photo credit: @NFL

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

Like most football fans, I was glued to my couch for most of the weekend watching the NFL’s best weekend of the year: the divisional round of the playoffs.

The divisional round usually features the best competitive games of the year as the eight remaining teams fight for their right to play in the conference championship games the very next week; with the winners heading to the Super Bowl.

With the Falcons losing to the Eagles, 15-10, in Philadelphia to kickoff the divisional round Saturday, their will be a new NFC Champion heading to Minneapolis on Feb. 4 for Super Bowl 52.

Sixth-seeded Atlanta (11-7) was trying to make a return trip to the NFC Championship Game and eventually back to the Super Bowl after last year’s painful loss in the Big Game to the New England Patriots after dropping a 28-3 lead, but Matt Ryan and Co. couldn’t get pass an Eagles team that were heavy underdogs coming into the game even as the NFC’s top seed with a 13-3 regular season and home field advantage.

And oh yeah, Philadelphia was playing without MVP front-runner and franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, who was lost for the season with a torn anterior crucial ligament in his left knee he suffered against the Rams in Los Angeles in Week 14.

Backup quarterback Nick Foles made every Eagles fan hold their collective breaths whenever he took a snap, played efficient football throwing for 246 yards on 23-of-30 passing with no touchdowns, but more importantly, zero interceptions. Foles kept Atlanta’s defense off guard for most of the afternoon as Philadelphia controlled the football for 32 minutes, compared to 28 minutes for the Falcons. Philadelphia converted 6-of-13 on third downs, while the Falcons were just 4-of-13 on third down conversions.

But the Falcons still had a chance to win a game, but Ryan and superstar wide receiver Julio Jones couldn’t connect on fourth-and-two from the Eagles’ own two-yard line with 1:05 left in the game. Jones, who finished with nine catches for 101 yards, slipped in the end zone and saw the pass slip right through his hands. Even if Jones makes the catch, his feet would’ve been out of bounds when you look at the replay.

Jones felt that he should’ve came up with the catch and made no excuses after the game.

“It was a sprintout, a rollout to me,” said Jones after the game per ESPN’s Vaughn McClure following the game. “Trying to take advantage of one-on-one [coverage] down there.

“I don’t know, but at the end of the day, I can make those plays. I ended up on the ground when I came out of my route. And that’s a tough call [for the official] to make during that situation in the game. That was it.”

Ryan finished the game throwing for 210 yards on 22-of-36 passing. Atlanta’s franchise quarterback did throw a six-yard touchdown to running back Devonta Freeman to give the Falcons a 10-6 lead in the second half, but Atlanta’s red zone woes that haunted them in the regular season (23rd in the NFL in red zone efficiency at 49.1-percent per ESPN Stats and Info), reared its ugly head.

“Just keep on disrespecting and we’re going to keep proving people wrong,” said Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey after the game to David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Philadelphia (14-3) will host the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field for the NFC Championship at 6:40 p.m. ET, which should be a great matchup given what the Vikings had to do to setup a date with the Eagles with a chance to play the Super Bowl in their own building, which would be the first time a team would play in the stadium where the Super Bowl is being held in NFL history.

Minnesota (14-3) had to rely on a 61-yard touchdown thrown from quarterback Case Keenum to wide receiver Stefon Diggs with 10 seconds remaining down the sideline to pull out an improbable 29-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints in the other NFC divisional playoff game Sunday. The play was reminiscent of a walk-off home run in baseball for the home team.

Diggs’ heart-pounding score sent a raucous sold out crowd at U.S. Bank Stadium into a frenzy as the stadium reached 118 decibels per reports. Diggs finished with six catches for 137 yards and the game-winning touchdown that cemented the Vikings’ first trip to the conference championship game in eight years.

“It’s a storybook ending — and it never ends that way,” Diggs said after the game to Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Usually, it’s reality. It’s real life. Things go, you walk home and worry about tomorrow. But today had other plans. I give it all to God, because things like this just don’t happen.”

After falling behind 17-0 to the Vikings at halftime, the fourth-seeded Saints stormed back with 14 unanswered points behind two touchdown passes from quarterback Drew Brees to wide receiver Michael Thomas that trimmed Minnesota’s lead to 17-14. Thomas’ two touchdowns came within a span of 3:09 that spanned into the fourth quarter.

Following a 49-yard field goal from kicker Kai Forbath that gave Minnesota a 20-14 lead early in the fourth quarter and an interception thrown by Keenum to rookie safety Marcus Williams that set up the Saints at the Vikings’ 40-yard line, Brees threw his third touchdown in the second half when he connected with rookie running back Alvin Kamara from 14-yards out that gave the Saints a brief 21-20 lead.

Brees finished the game throwing for 294 yards on 25-of-40 passing with three touchdowns and two interceptions, both coming in the first half.

“We’re still a bit shell-shocked after what happened there at the end,” said Brees after the game per the Associated Press.

But it was the big play by Diggs, who avoided a would-be hit by Williams and never looked back as he raced for the end zone for arguably the biggest touchdown in Minnesota’s history, a perfect delivered pass from the NCAA’s all-time passing leader in Keenum, who threw for 318 yards and matched Brees’ 25-of-40 passing.

On the AFC side, the top-seeded Patriots (14-3) made short work of the visiting Tennessee Titans (10-8), winning 35-14 on Saturday night advancing to their seventh straight AFC Championship Game next Sunday in Foxborough with a dominating performance over the sixth-seeded Titans in the chilly New England weather where game time temperature were in the 20s.

After taking a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, Tennessee saw New England roll off 35 unanswered points that led to the Patriots’ dismantling of the Titans. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw for 337 yards on 35-of-53 passing and three touchdowns, his 10th career postseason game in which he’s thrown three touchdowns moving past Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana for most in the NFL per the Elias Sports Bureau.

“To be in the playoffs, to play well and to advance, that’s just really great for this team,” Brady said to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. “We’ve got to do it again next week.”

Wide receiver Danny Amendola, one of Brady’s most dependable pass catchers, finished with a team-high 11 catches for 112 yards. Tight end Rob Gronkowski hauled in six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown over Titans safety Kevin Byard, who predicted that Tennessee would make the future NFL Hall of Famer look like Blake Bortles.

More on Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars, who stand in the way of Brady from making his eighth Super Bowl appearance in his 18-year career that includes five wins in seven appearances, in a bit.

After the game, Brady was business as usual after leading New England pass by an overmatched Titans team that were doomed from the start. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota played through a strained quadriceps muscle that he suffered on run in the first quarter that limited the Mariota’s mobility and Tennessee’s playcalling for the remainder of the game.

Mariota completed 22-of-37 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns, but was under siege from Patriots’ pass rush that sacked Mariota eight times on Saturday night, a franchise record for one postseason game.

“Embarrassed,” said Mariota, standing at the podium after the game per the Associated Press.

“You play to win the whole thing. Yeah, it’s nice to be in the playoffs, but again, you don’t play to get in, especially coming into the divisional playoff losing the way we did.”

Raise your hands if you had the Jacksonville Jaguars heading to their first AFC Championship Game since 1999 at the start of the 2017.

Anybody?

Don’t feel bad if you didn’t because you aren’t alone, especially with the aforementioned Bortles leading the way. For most of his four seasons in Jacksonville, Bortles was the favorite punching bag for Jaguars fans (and the media) to hit for the team’s lackluster play even with a vastly improving defense with to lean on.

But the perception of Bortles is rapidly changing, especially after help leading the third-seeded Jaguars (12-6) to 45-42 victory over the second-seeded Steelers (13-4) at Heinz Field to close out the divisional round weekend. Bortles didn’t have earth-shattering numbers, completing just 14-of-26 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown, but didn’t throw an interception nor was he sacked in Jacksonville’s second win in Pittsburgh this year. Pittsburgh set a franchise record with 55 sacks this season, leading the NFL this season.

Jacksonville dispatched Pittsburgh 30-9 in Week 5 behind a punishing defense that forced five interceptions, returning two of those interceptions for touchdowns.

In that regular season game, Bortles was a non factor as he threw for just 95 yards on 8-of-14 passing and an interception, but the offense was carried by ground game as rookie running back Leonard Fournette rushed for a career-high 181 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns, one of which went for 90 yards, the longest scoring run by a rookie against the Steelers per the Elias Sports Bureau.

This time around, Bortles appeared more confident and comfortable against Pittsburgh.

Jacksonville’s 45 points are the most points scored by an opponent against the Steelers in franchise history. Fournette scored two first half touchdowns, while backup running back T.J. Yeldon added another score that gave Jacksonville a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter before the Steelers answered with a touchdown of their own from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to wide receiver Antonio Brown that cut Jacksonville’s lead to 21-7.

Fournette, who left the game briefly with an ankle injury, rushed for a 109 yards on 25 carries and scored three touchdowns.

Shortly before the two minute warning and with Pittsburgh on the Jacksonville 47-yard line, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue sacked Roethislisberger forcing a fumble which was returned by middle linebacker Telvin Smith that gave Jacksonville a 28-7 lead. It was Smith’s second defensive touchdown against the Steelers this season, also finished with a team-high 14 tackles.

Roethlisberger would throw a 36-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Martavis Bryant before the end of the first half, then a 19-yard touchdown pass to running back Le’Veon Bell pulling the Steelers closer, 28-21, in the third quarter.

But Bortles made the biggest play of the game in my book, throwing a 45-yard bomb down the middle of the field in double coverage with 11:55 left in the fourth quarter that was hauled in by rookie wide receiver Keelan Cole that set up the Jaguars at the Pittsburgh 3-yard line before Fournette plowed into the end zone for his third rushing touchdown that re-opened a two-touchdown lead for Jacksonville making the score, 35-21.

“These guys played with confidence all day,” Bortles said after the game per the Florida Times-Union.

Jacksonville would add 10 more points in the fourth quarter, while the Steelers played catch up (pun intended) for the majority of the day despite big performances by Pittsburgh’s “Killer Bs” of Roethlisberger, Bell and Le’Veon Brown.

Roethlisberger threw for 469 yards on 37-of-58 passes, with five touchdowns and one interception. Brown, who appeared healthy following a torn left calf muscle he suffered in Week 15 against the Patriots that caused him to miss the Steelers’ final two games of the year, finished with seven catches for 132 yards and a pair of spectacular touchdowns.

Bell finished with 155 total yards from scrimmage (67 rushing and 88 receiving) and two touchdowns (one rushing and one receiving).

“Its disheartening” said Brown per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I thought we had the right group of guys.”

The conference championship games between Minnesota-Philadelphia in the NFC and Jacksonville-New England in the AFC weren’t what people imagined when the 2017 season started, even though most fully believed that the reigning Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots had the strongest chance at making another Super Bowl run.

Minnesota and Philadelphia did enter the season with postseason expectations, and should be a fierce matchup led by unwanted quarterbacks in Keenum and Foles along with strong defenses, and fan bases thirsty for a major championship.

Jacksonville wasn’t suppose to crash the postseason party, but here are the Jaguars who now must travel to New England and try to dethrone Brady and the Patriots to earn the franchise’s first trip to the Super Bowl.

“I’m sure there will still be tons of people that are going to disapprove and talk negative or hate or do whatever they want,” Bortles said before the Jaguars left Pittsburgh. “But we get to keep playing and we get an opportunity to play in Foxborough next week  for another week. Just honored to be able to do this especially with this group of guys.”

“Its been an awesome year. Just want to keep it going.”

NFL Playoffs Podcast with David Zizmor: A look at eight teams that’s battling it out for the Super Bowl

Photo credit: @NFL

NFL Playoff Podcast with David Zizmor:

Sunday’s game AFC: Jacksonville 10 Buffalo 3

AFC Divisional Round

Saturday: Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots

Sunday: Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Sunday’s game NFC: New Orleans 31 vs. Carolina 26

NFC: Divisional Round

Saturday: Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday: New Orleans Saints @ Minnesota Vikings

David goes through the NFL Playoff schedule for this weekend at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

 

 

Raiders Instant Report Card: Raiders fall short in home opener to Falcons

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

AP photo: Oakland Raiders Derek Carr had his successes with three touchdown passes and 299 yards but the Raiders fell short to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at the Oakland Coliseum

OAKLAND, Calif — Well, I guess a 2-0 start for the first time since Oakland’s Super Bowl season of 2002 was not in the works for the Raiders after all Sunday.

On a day where the Oakland Coliseum was electric as ever with strong optimism from the sold out Raider Nation crowd, the Raiders couldn’t neutralize Matt Ryan and the Falcons, losing 35-28 to Atlanta in Oakland’s home opener in Week 2.

Checkout each unit’s grade following Oakland’s (1-1) home loss to the Falcons (1-1) below:

Quarterback (A) – For the second straight week, Oakland quarterback Derek Carr played a terrific game, completing 34 of 45 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns (all in the second half), with no interceptions.

With Oakland trailing Atlanta 13-7 in the third quarter, Carr engineered an 8-play, 81-yard drive in 3:43 and delivered a soft pass to a streaking Clive Walford for a 31-yard touchdown up the Raiders’ sideline that gave the Raiders a 14-13 lead.

It was one of Carr’s best throws of the day against a Falcons secondary that played aggressively all day.

After two games into the season, Carr has thrown for 618 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Running Backs (B) – For the time being, Oakland appears to be taking the “running back by committee” approach this season, given how no running back had more than eight carries on the day.

Starter Latavius Murray led the team with eight carries for 57 yards and a touchdown. Murray’s 1-yard score gave Oakland its first lead of the game, 7-3 early in the second quarter. Murray was also heavily involved in the passing game, finishing tied for the team lead with six catches and 44 yards Sunday.

Rookie running backs DeAndre Washington (six carries for 46 yards), and Jalen Richard (seven carries for 17 yards) continue to give Oakland the change of pace runners the team lacked last season.

Offensive line (B) – With Austin Howard starting in place of  right tackle Menelik Watson (groin), the offensive line surrender their first sack of the season, but kept Carr clean for the majority of the game.

After the offensive line racked up 167 yards on the ground against New Orleans in Week 1, Oakland finished with 155 yards against Atlanta Sunday.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends (B) – Carr looked for his tight ends early in the game to get the offense in rhythm, connecting on his first three passes to reserve tight end Lee Smith (who caught the first of the two), along with Walford.

Walford finished with six catches for 50 yards and a touchdown.

Amari Cooper led Oakland with 71 yards receiving on five catches, but could’ve had more if not for a questionable illegal touch pass call midway into the fourth quarter.

With Oakland trailing Atlanta 28-21 and facing a 3rd and two at their own 49-yard line, it appeared that Cooper was forced out of bounds by Falcons’ cornerback Desmond Trufant, came back on to the field and  took a Carr pass 51 yards for the tying touchdown.

Not the case.

By rule, Oakland loss the down, forcing 4th down which the Raiders didn’t convert after just gaining one yard on a hand off to Richard.

Cooper is still seeking his first touchdown of the season after two games, while fellow starting wide receiver Michael Crabtree (2-yard score) and Andre Holmes (6-yard score) hauled in their first touchdown catches of the season in the fourth quarter with Oakland rallying late.

With four catches on Sunday, Crabtree is tied for the team lead with Cooper with 11 catches. Crabtree totaled just 31 yards against the Falcons.

Rookie wide receiver Johnny Holton caught his first pass in the NFL, a four-yard catch in the second quarter.

Offensively through the first two games for the season, Oakland is leading the league in total yards per game (486.0) and rushing yards (167.0), second in points per game (35.0),and sixth in passing yards per game (319.0).

The offense can score points at will and rack up a chunk of yards, but the defense is having trouble stopping the opposition early, which could hinder Oakland’s chances of being a playoff team this season.

Defensively, Oakland is dead-last in total yards surrendered per game (507.0) and passing yards (419.0), and second-to-last in points (34.0). Surprisingly, Oakland is 10th in rushing yards against per game (88.0).

But the defense got trashed again Sunday, allowing 528 total yards to the Falcons. Oakland has given up 500+ yards of total offense in back-to-back weeks, which is outright unacceptable for any defense to allow that type of production.

Defensive Line (C) – Atlanta’s strong running game took advantage of some holes in Oakland’s defensive front, rushing for 139 yards. Starting running back Devonta Freeman rush for 93 yards on 17 carries for Atlanta.

Backup defensive tackle Stacy McGee recorded Oakland’s lone sack of the game, while defensive end Khalil Mack had another tough Sunday handling double teams and chip blocks from Falcons tight ends and running backs.

Linebackers (B-) – Starting outside linebacker Malcolm Smith, who took over calling the defensive plays for the defense from middle linebacker Ben Heeney after the defense was shredded by New Orleans for 507 total yards last week, finished with five tackles.

Heeney, led all linebackers in tackles with six. You could see that Heeney played looser Sunday without having to call the plays on defense.

Secondary (C+) – The secondary didn’t get blown up for 423 passing yards, four touchdowns (one going for 98 yards) as Saints quarterback Drew Brees piled up in Week 1, but it did allow 396 yards and three touchdowns to another NFC South quarterback in Matt Ryan.

Ryan completed 26 of 34 passes, but did throw an interception to cornerback David Amerson in the end zone after trying to hit his tight end Jacob Tamme on a post route in the third quarter with Oakland up, 14-13.

The nine-year veteran from Boston College shrugged off the interception and found Tamme on the Falcons’ next drive for a 14-yard touchdown that gave Atlanta a 19-14 lead before converting a two-point conversion that made the score 21-14.

Julio Jones, the Falcons’ all-world wide receiver who was battling an ankle injury during the week, caught five balls for 106 yards and a touchdown.

Jones capped off a 10-play, 76-yard drive with a 21-yard score in the second quarter that gave Atlanta a 10-7 lead.

Jones’s 48-yard reception where he beat safety Reggie Nelson (finished with a team-high 10 tackles) over the middle, and his 20-yard catch and run past cornerback Sean Smith in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference-makers for Atlanta closing out the game.

Raider Nation will have to wait until Oct. 9  (Week 5) to see their football team, as the Silver & Black will be on the road for the next two weeks, traveling to Nashville to face the Titans (1-1) and to Baltimore to play the Ravens (1-1).

 

 

Oakland Raiders-Atlanta Falcons preview: Raiders look for first 2-0 start since ’02; host Falcons in Week 2

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

AP file photo: Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) looks for some daylight as he’s pass rushed by the New Orleans Saints Paul Kruger (99) during last Sunday’s game at the Superdome in New Orleans

OAKLAND, Calif — The Raiders opened up the NFL season in dramatic fashion, knocking off the Saints 35-34 in New Orleans last Sunday and have been one of the trendiest sports topics for the week, thanks in large part to the two-point conversion that head coach Jack Del Rio dialed up for quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Michael Crabtree.

But the NFL is a week-to-week league and Oakland (1-0) will face another NFC South opponent when they host the Atlanta Falcons (0-1) at Oakland Coliseum Sunday in what should be a sellout for Raider Nation.

Kickoff is at 1:25 p.m. PDT.

Carr finished the game 24 of 38 for 319 yards passing and one touchdown, including the two-point conversion to Crabtree with 52 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Carr’s clutch throw to Crabtree  earned Carr the Castrol Edge Clutch Performer of the Week, for Week 1 as announced by the NFL Friday.

“Everyone on this team is so confident in what we can do,” Carr said after practice Wednesday at the team’s training facility in Alameda. “It’s not arrogant, it’s not that we think we’re better than anybody. We respect every team that we play. At the same time, we know the work we’ve put in. We know how to compete.”

Carr drove the Raiders 75 yards in 11 plays, capping off the game-winning drive with a 10-yard touchdown to wide receiver Seth Roberts.

Crabtree finished with seven catches for 87 yards, while his fellow wide receiver Amari Cooper finished with six catches and led the team with 137 yards receiving.

Oakland’s running game was in good hands with starting running back Latavius Murray (14 carries, 59 yards, one touchdown) and rookies DeAndre Washington (five carries and 14 yards), and Jalen Richard (three carries and 84 yards).

Richard’s 75-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter was a huge turning point for Oakland in the game.

Oakland’s defense seemed to be  heading in the right direction in the first quarter, when newly signed outside linebacker Bruce Irvin sacked Saints quarterback Drew Brees forcing a fumble that was recovered by rookie defensive tackle Jihad Ward inside Saints’ territory.

The Raiders converted that turnover into a Sebastian Janikowski 47-yard field goal, but that was the only pressure that Brees felt all day from an absent pass rush that saw star defensive end Khalil Mack facing countless double-teams and chip blocks from tight ends and running backs.

But the secondary took a beating from Drew Brees and Co., giving up a total of 507 yards of offense. Brees completed 28 of 42 passes for 423 yards and four touchdowns.

High-priced free agent cornerback Sean Smith had a day that he wanted to forget, giving up huge plays in the passing game, most notably the 98-yard touchdown pass that speedy wide receiver Brandin Cooks caught that gave New Orleans a 24-10 lead in the third quarter.

Smith was benched in favor of former first-round draft pick D.J. Hayden after giving up the touchdown to Cooks.

Cooks finished the game with six catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns, but fellow wide receiver Willie Sneed gave Oakland fits also, burning the Raiders for 172 yards on nine catches and one touchdown.

Defensive coordinator Ken Norton and the defense are going to face another high passing attack in the Falcons, led by quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones and Mohammed Sanu. Atlanta’s passing offense can feast on a Raiders’ secondary if they miss assignments.

Atlanta is traveling to the West Coast after dropping their home opener last week to Tampa Bay, 31-24.

Ryan finished 27 of 39 for 334 yards and two touchdowns, while Sanu finished with five catches for 80 yards and a touchdown, and Jones hauled in four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown.

Jones has been dealing with an ankle injury and has been limited in practice for much of the week, but should be ready to go Sunday.

The six-year wide receiver from Alabama finished in 2015 tied with Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown for the league lead in receptions (136) and edged Brown for the league lead in receiving yards (1,871 to Brown’s 1,834) is still one of the premier wide receivers in the league even at less than 100%.

“I’ve played through things,” Jones said earlier in the week via CBS Sports. “It’s nothing that’s going to hold me back from going out there and producing or doing what I do.”

Atlanta’s running game has the potential to have a big day against Oakland, after just rushing for 52 yards Sunday against Tampa Bay, 10 by Ryan.

Starting running back Devonta Freeman (11 carries and 20 yards) and fellow running buddy Tevin Coleman (eight carries and 22 yards) are looking for bounce back games after facing a stingy Buccaneers defense that yielded  just three yards per carry to Atlanta.

Atlanta is looking to avoid an 0-2 hole after starting last season 6-1, before derailing to an 8-8 finish and missing the playoffs for the third straight season.

The Falcons defeated Oakland 23-20 in the last meeting between the two teams on Oct. 14, 2012 behind a Matt Bryant 55-yard field goal with one second left in the fourth quarter.

Starting off the season 2-0 for the Raiders would be a confidence booster for a team that hasn’t seen a 2-0 start since 2002, the year the team reached the Super Bowl.

Winning exudes confidence and with Carr, who finished with 3,987 yards passing and 32 touchdowns in 2015 already off to a promising start to 2016, the Raiders may have the makings of a special team.