Originally published on SBReport.net on Oct. 14, 2012
The Oakland Raiders fought all game against an undefeated Atlanta Falcons team and had a chance at victory but faltered late as the Raiders ultimately fell to a last-second field goal that gave the Falcons the 23-20 win.
Oakland came out energetic and made an impact quickly as the cornerback Joselio Hanson undercut a pass from Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to give the Raiders their first interception of the season.
Unfortunately the Raiders had their own problems holding on to the ball as running back Darren McFadden gave the ball back to the Falcons on a fumble as he tried to take the ball up the middle on the ensuing drive.
Ryan was then able to drive the Falcons down the field for a field goal attempt but kicker Matt Bryant missed it just wide left from 43 yards out, keeping the score at 0-0.
Luckily for the Raiders, Ryan wasn't done turning the ball over. In all, the Raiders would pick off the Falcons quarterback three times in the first half.
Ryan's second interception would occur on the next Falcons drive as he attempted to find his young standout wide receiver Julio Jones but was picked off by safety-playing-corner Michael Huff at the two-yard-line to give the ball back to the Raiders.
Quarterback Carson Palmer was able to orchestrate a scoring drive from that point, getting it all started with a 49-yard pass to Denarius Moore from out of his own end zone.
Palmer would drive the offense down to the Falcons 33-yard line but would have to settle for a Sebastian Janikowski field goal after a couple of critical penalties.
The Raiders really struggled with penalties. After having committed only 21 penalties this season in all coming into the game, the Raiders committed 12 for 110 yards.
Ryan's third interception of the day led to the Raiders' first touchdown of the game. Linebacker Philip Wheeler came up the middle on a blitz and rocked Ryan as he was releasing the ball and safety Tyvon Branch just had to wait under the ball as he hauled in the interception on the Atlanta 28-yard line with just under three minutes remaining in the first half.
On the second play of the drive, Palmer found Moore who slipped a tackle for a 25-yard touchdown scamper to give the Raiders the 13-7 lead at the half.
The Falcons would add on two field goals in the third quarter to set the stage for a wild fourth quarter starting tied 13-13.
With a little over six minutes remaining in the game, Palmer and the offense got the ball back looking to take the lead with a drive starting from their own 10-yard line. The offense was doing a solid job of taking time off the clock while moving the ball until Falcons corner Asante Samuel undercut an out route and picked Palmer and returned it back 79-yards for a touchdown, giving the Falcons a 20-13 lead.
But the Raiders weren't going to quit. With still 2:40 remaining on the clock and all timeouts left, there was still plenty of time for Palmer and the Raiders to answer.
Palmer orchestrated a perfect 2:00 drive to get the Raiders back into the end zone when they needed it most.
McFadden punched the ball into the end zone with a two-yard touchdown to tie the game with just 40 seconds left. The touchdown marks just the second rushing touchdown by the Raiders this season.
But the 40 seconds proved to be too much to leave Ryan and the Falcons offense.
Following a touchback forcing them to start on their own 20-yard line, Ryan completed four passes worth less than 10 yards to get his team to the 50-yard line with 12 seconds remaining. On what would prove to be the most crucial play of the game, Ryan found the ever-dependable tight end Tony Gonzalez for 13 yards down to the Oakland 37-yard line, allowing a 55-yard field goal attempt that Bryant would make for the victory.