The Falcons’ defense played with a different spark in their best effort of the year. Foyesade Oluokun forced the first turnover with a strip sack of Derek Carr and the defense never looked back, collecting five turnovers and five sacks on the day.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden eventually pulled Carr for Nathan Peterman with the Raiders down 40-6 with 10:48 left in the fourth quarter. The Falcons have to be happy with the effort going against a Raiders team that went down to the wire with the Chiefs just a week before.
Offensively, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan completed 22 of 39 pass attempts for 185 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
The Falcons started the season 0-5 but are 4-2 since Dan Quinn was fired. At this point, Raheem Morris’ candidacy to permanently replace Quinn has to be seriously considered if the defense is able to keep playing at or near this level. If the offense plays well when healthy, the decision becomes even easier.
Buy Jacob Tuioti-Mariner’s breakout performance: Tuioti-Mariner was initially part of the Falcons’ plans for depth on the defensive line coming into 2020 but showed he could contribute against the Raiders. It certainly helps when the defense is playing with more energy, but Tuioti-Mariner seemed to be in the right place at the right time more often than not Sunday.
Tuioti-Mariner recovered Oluokun’s forced fumble in the first quarter, and ended up forcing his own and recovering it with 1:02 left in the second quarter. Tuioti-Mariner was an undrafted free agent and played in a reserve role in 2019, but the Falcons have gotten solid production with UDFAs in recent years. He proved he can be another success story in that same way.
"Jacob was all over the place ... it felt like he was everywhere,” Morris said after the game. “He plays special teams, he makes tackles for us, I can't say enough good things about what Jacob was able to do for us just because of where he's come from."
The Falcons' defensive performance may have made the offense’s inconsistency a little less noticeable, but they never quite got into a flow until after the game was well out of hand. Missing one of the best wide receivers in football and your starting running back doesn’t help, but the problem isn’t particularly new.
The improvements in Morris’ interim tenure have been good, but there’s room to further evaluate the situation on offense.
Pivotal play: The Falcons have been a social media punching bag this season because of blown leads, and it felt the Raiders might add to that narrative. The Falcons led 16-3, and were punting from their own 16-yard line early in the third quarter. Sterling Hofrichter’s punt was tipped and went just 20 yards, giving the Raiders the ball at the Falcons’ 36-yard line.
Two plays later, Deion Jones collected the Falcons’ third takeaway, picking off a Carr pass and taking it back 67 yards for a touchdown to make it a 23-3 Falcons lead. It was Jones’ fifth pick-six of his career, breaking a tie with Ravens CB Marcus Peters for the most of any player since 2016.