The Atlanta Falcons pulled it off.
There were times where it looked like they were destined to start 0-2, struggling in the red zone and committing costly penalties on defense.
But a steady offensive attack that began by a long throw to Julio Jones from 75 yards out got the Falcons rolling. Jones finished with five catches for 106 yards.
Quarterback Matt Ryan completed 26 of 34 passes to throw for 396 yards and three touchdown. The Falcons got help from the running game late as Tevin Coleman scored on a 13-yard rush to give the team some breathing room.
The Falcons continue a brutal stretch of their difficult schedule, and next is up is the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome on Monday night. Before looking ahead to that, here are a few things to take away from the Falcons' 35-28 win at O.co Coliseum.
Pass rush a little better...just a little
The Falcons defense did good job on the coverage down field to stall the Raiders' first few drives. If it hadn't been for defensive penalties, the Raiders may have been scoreless through three quarters. But that wasn't the case, and quarterback Derek Carr settled in and had an easy time getting the ball to his receivers who were able to create long, explosive plays.
There were eight Raiders receivers with receptions of least 10 yards. Amari Cooper led the team with 71 reception yards, a long of 25 that help the Raiders get into the red zone and eventually score their first points. Clive Walford caught a 31-yard pass to give the Raiders the lead back early in the third, and Andre Holmes caught a pass from Carr to get Oakland within a touchdown.
Despite getting burned several times, there were glimpses of improvement. Kemal Ishmael had a career-high 15 total tackles. Vic Beasley, who failed to make a tackle in the first game, had two tackles and a sack. Deion Jones and Sean Weatherspoon made some good stops for the defense, as well, finishing with 10 and nine total tackles, respectively.
Penalties continue to cost the Falcons. It was the difference against Tampa Bay last week, and it it looked like it would be again Sunday.
In the second quarter, Robert Alford intercepted Carr's pass in the end zone, but he pushed off Michael Crabtree resulting in a pass interference. On the next play, Latavius Murray ran into the end zone for Oakland's first touchdown. Murray had eight carries for 57 yards.
Later on a fourth-and-3, the Falcons forced a punt, but a challenge after the kick by the Raiders revealed the Falcons had 12 men on the field. That gave the Raiders a new set of downs, and they were able to score five plays later. The Falcons cleaned it up in the second half, but finished with seven penalties for 73 yards.
Red zone efficiency improved right in front of our eyes
The Falcons woes in the red zone continued in the first half. Whatever happened in the locker room at halftime whipped the offense into shape.
In two red zone appearances in the first half, the Falcons had to settle for two field goals from Matt Bryant from 21 and 20 yards out.
Things were still shaky to start the second half in the red zone when Ryan's pass to Jacob Tamme was intercepted in the back of the end zone by David Amerson. It was the Falcons only turnover in the game.
But the Falcons made it to the end zone three more times in the game after that, scoring on all three drives on passes to Tamme and Justin Hardy, who caught a deflected pass that could have been intercepted. Coleman rushed into the end zone from 14 yards out for Atlanta's final score.
The Falcons ground game looked more like what was expected this season with Coleman and Devonta Freeman both getting hand-offs. The offense's attack was more balanced, and the two backs combined for 139 yards. Coleman also had two catches for 25 yards.
Tight ends get some looks
Ryan found his tight ends seven times last week against Tampa. In Oakland, Ryan used his tight ends to help the offense make big plays, including Tamme's catch in the end zone to give the Falcons a 21-14 lead (after Ryan's successful 2-point conversion). Tamme finished with five catches for 75 yards. Austin Hooper, a rookie out of Stanford, made some big catches down field to put the Falcons in a position to score. He nabbed three receptions for 84 yards. Levine Toilolo also had two catches for 21 yards.