- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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A look at a near-miss for Oakland:
What it means: The Raiders played tough -- perhaps even better than they did in their lone win of the season over Pittsburgh in Week 3 -- but they fell short to drop to 1-4. Oakland pushed Atlanta to the brink and was oh-so close to pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the NFL season. But the Falcons are a good team and they found a way to improve to 6-0.
Second-guessing Allen: I’ve already heard chirps from the Raider Nation. Many Oakland fans wanted coach Dennis Allen to go for two points and the win in the final minute when Oakland tied the game at 20-20 by kicking an extra point. And fans were up in arms when Allen iced Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant on a 55-yard field goal attempt by calling a timeout right before the attempt. It was no good. But the timeout gave Bryant new life and he responded by drilling the game-winner. My thoughts? You can’t blame Allen for taking either tact. Blame the defense on perhaps its worst series of the game by allowing the Falcons to cruise down the field to get into field goal territory.
Big Palmer miscue: Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer had a good game as he completed 23 of 33 passes for 353 yards. But this game was defined by an interception returned by Asante Samuel 79 yards for a score with 2:40 to go. Yes, Palmer led the Raiders back for a game-tying score, but it should never have gotten to that point.
Penalties a problem again: The Raiders improved their penalty issues in the first quarter of the season after setting NFL records for penalties and penalty yardage last season. But Sunday, Oakland was sloppy again.
McFadden sputters again: Oakland running back Darren McFadden had 70 yards on 27 carries. He has 271 yards on 84 carries this season.
Interceptions come: The Raiders entered the game with no interceptions this season. They picked off Matt Ryan three times in the first half Sunday as Oakland took a 13-7 lead at halftime.
Gonzo shut out: The Falcons ended their AFC West series at 4-0. But former Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez did not find the end zone Sunday. He scored against the three other AFC West teams.
What’s next: Oakland hosts Jacksonville next Sunday. Oakland’s schedule is easing up. After the Jaguars, the Raiders go to Kansas City and then host Tampa Bay. If this team plays as inspired in those games as it did Sunday, the Raiders may have a good shot to string some wins together.