The Raiders’ defense will be tougher to beat next year


— It was just the third time in Raiders history they have lost at home against the Atlanta Falcons.

And it was their fourth loss in five games.

The Raiders got off to a hot start by scoring 24 unanswered points in the third quarter to win 21-20 in overtime on Sunday night.

Atlanta got off the board early with a touchdown drive that began in Atlanta’s own territory with 3:21 left in the game.

But the Raiders went back to their familiar script of getting on the board, forcing Falcons punter Josh Scobee to miss field goal attempts that were wide left and right.

Falcons wide receiver Rishard Matthews, who caught five passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns, missed a 48-yarder that was wide right.

Atlanta’s defense got off on the wrong foot on that play and allowed a 17-yard field goal by Brandon Boykin with 4:36 left.

The Falcons went to the locker room and were met by the Raiders’ official usher.

“You know, you’re the referee, but you can’t tell me they got out of bounds or something,” the usher said, laughing.

“But they got in trouble for being late.”

The Raiders responded with a 21-play, 85-yard drive to put the game away.

After Matthews scored his first touchdown, the Raiders lined up in a 4-3-5 defense.

They ran the ball for a 10-play scoring drive that included a 19-yard pass to running back Alvin Kamara for a 14-yard gain.

After the Raiders took a 28-21 lead with 6:16 left, Matthews returned a kickoff 72 yards for a touchdown and a 12-0 lead.

That was it for the Falcons, who gave up two touchdowns and scored three times in the first four minutes of the third.

Atlanta, which was ranked fourth in the NFL last season in scoring defense (18.8 points per game), didn’t score until the fourth quarter.

The Falcons were held to a season-low six points on the ground.

It wasn’t all bad for the Raiders.

They held the Falcons to just 39 yards rushing on 19 carries.

They also were able to avoid a costly fumble by Atlanta defensive tackle Jared Odrick, who returned a kick for a 23-yard touchdown.