Here are the Falcons’ grades for the 23-20 nail-bitter over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
C-plus — Quarterbacks: Ryan has his worst game of the season. He completed 24 of 37 passes for 249 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. His passer rating of 59.4 was his lowest since he posted a 50.6 in a 17-10 loss at Houston on Dec. 4, 2011. This would have been a ‘D’ if he didn’t complete 5 of 6 passes in the game-winning drive.
F — Running backs: The Falcons have their power rushing game in moth balls somewhere. They had 15 rushes for 45 yards and quarterback Matt Ryan had the longest gain, 15 yards. Sounds like Michael Turner is getting tired of all the pass-happiness. Jeff Schultz column.
A — Receivers: Julio Jones (15.8 yards per catch), Roddy White (12.0) and Tony Gonzalez (10.5) averaged more than 10 yards per catch. White’s 4-yard touchdown catch was his fourth of the season and 49th of his career. He currently ranks third on the club’s all-time receiving touchdowns list behind Terance Mathis (57) and Andre Rison (56).
B-minus — Offensive line: The unit gave up just one sack, but did allow nine quarterback hits. The protection was solid on most throws, but was a factor in Ryan’s third interception when a linebacker – Ex-Georgia Tech standout Philip Wheeler — was not picked up by a back. The team’s inability to run the ball in short yardage situation was exposed when they couldn’t run it in from the 2-yard line. After an incomplete pass, Turner picked up a yard and Jason Snelling was dropped for a yard loss.
A — Defensive line: Defensive end John Abraham and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux had strong games. Abraham had five tackles, three sacks, two quarterback hits and a forced fumble. “John Abraham had a monster game,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. Babineaux had five tackles, three tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
C — Linebackers: Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and cornerback Dunta Robinson tied for the team lead with nine tackles. Stephen Nicholas, who was coming off an ankle injury, played only on special teams. Mike Peterson played in the base defense and Akeem Dent took over for Nicholas in the nickel. Peterson whiffed on a tackle on Denarius Moore, who went on to score a 25-yard touchdown. Dent had eight tackles.
C-minus — Defensive backs: Asante Samuel picked a perfect time to get his first interception with the Falcons. He returned it 79 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Raiders passed for 353 yards. Denarius Moore had five catches for 104 yards and one touchdown.
A — Special teams: Matt Bryant’s 55-yard field goal was his second game-winner this season. The kick was the second longest of his career and his longest as a Falcon. It was his 14th game-winning kick. Since joining the Falcons in 2009, Bryant has connected on 21 of 28 field goal attempts from 40 yards-or-deeper, including all five of his game winners. Punter Matt Bosher had a good day striking the ball. He had excellent hang time on his punts and averaged 52.8 yards on four punts.
B — Coaching: The Falcons managed to get a win while playing some sub-standard football. The tackling was shoddy, Matt Ryan tossed three interceptions and they are searching for a rushing attack. With all of that, the Falcons still found a way to become the league’s only undefeated team.
NEXT UP: The Falcons (6-0) travel to play the Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) at 1 p.m. Oct. 28 at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles are also on their bye week.