ATLANTA -- The Raiders' overriding emotion was anguish when Matt Bryant kicked a 55-yard field goal with one second remaining to give the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons a 23-20 victory Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
The reason it hurt so much is that the Raiders, in one of the NFL's most difficult road venues, at least temporarily rectified a lot of previous issues and did it in a manner that suggested it is too early to write off 2012 as being destined for double-digit defeats in a rebuilding year.
They lost anyway.
"As far as leaving it on the field, I thought we did that," defensive tackle Richard Seymour said.
The final three minutes were a blur, beginning with Asante Samuel's 79-yard interception return for a touchdown on a pass by Carson Palmer just as the Raiders were moving into position to break a 13-13 tie.
After Samuel evaded Palmer's attempt at a tackle at the 20-yard line, the Falcons led 20-13 with 2:40 to play. Furious with himself but undaunted, Palmer drove the Raiders 80 yards in eight plays, a drive that included passes of 17, 9 and 38 yards to Derek Hagan. When McFadden scored on a 2-yard run, only 40 seconds remained.
Too much time, as it turned out.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, who threw three interceptions in the first half against a suddenly stout Oakland pass defense, took over at the 20-yard line and completed passes of 7 and 9 yards to Jacquizz Rodgers, 4 yards to Harry Douglas and finally 10- and 13-yard strikes to tight end Tony Gonzalez.
Atlanta called a timeout, then Oakland called time to freeze Bryant. Bryant missed the kick, although the whistle already had blown and he was simply taking a practice swing.
His next attempt split the uprights, and the Raiders had fallen hard to 1-4.
"This team doesn't have any quit in them," coach Dennis Allen said. "We don't take solace in the loss. We didn't put enough points on the board. There are no moral victories, but I'm proud of these guys."
Atlanta, despite being outgained 474 to 286 and outplayed in most areas, completed a four-game sweep of AFC West teams and heads into its bye week at 6-0.
"We're very fortunate," Atlanta coach Mike Smith said. "They did a great job having their guys prepared. They were humming today."
The first half included the Raiders' first three interceptions of the season by Joselio Hanson, Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch, the last one set up by Philip Wheeler's blitz against Ryan.
The Raiders led 13-7, with Sebastian Janikowski kicking 52- and 22-yard field goals and Palmer hitting Denarius Moore on a 25-yard touchdown pass. The chip-shot field goal was problematic in that the Raiders had first-and-goal from the Atlanta 8 and failed to score a touchdown even after McFadden gained 7 yards on first down to the 1.
An incompletion by Palmer and a 3-yard loss by McFadden, courtesy of Justin Babineaux, prompted Allen to bring in Janikowski to get three points out of a 76-yard, 10-play drive.
The Falcons had the only points of the third quarter on field goals of 41 and 20 yards by Bryant, but the second of those was a defensive win in that Atlanta started at the Raiders' 2-yard line after Palmer was blindsided by John Abraham. Defensive end Ray Edwards scooped up the resulting fumble, with McFadden chasing him down on a hustle play at the 2.
The Oakland defense held firm, with Rolando McClain stuffing Jason Snelling for a 1-yard loss on third-and-goal at the 1.
The third-down problems the Raiders focused on during the bye week were much better, particularly on defense, where the Falcons were 2 for 9 against a team giving up 53 percent of conversions coming in.
Like Allen, the Raiders were careful not to proclaim any sort of moral victory, although it was clear the loss to the Falcons was in no way similar to road losses in Miami and Denver where the Raiders were steamrollered in the second half.
"With (the Falcons) being the team they are this year, it gives you some reassurance that you can play with any team in the league," McClain said.
Jacksonville (1-4) at Raiders (1-4), 1:25 p.m., CBS
Raiders defense turns in strong performance Page 11
Carson Palmer takes blame for late interception Page 11
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