ATLANTA -- Torched by Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning in the previous two games, the Raiders defense did almost everything right against Matt Ryan.
"That was the way we knew we could play," Raiders safety Michael Huff said. "That's Raiders defense."
Without an interception coming into Sunday, the Raiders picked off three passes by Ryan in the first half and held the NFL's second-ranked quarterback to one touchdown and a 59.4 passer rating.
But in the end, it didn't matter.
"This hurts more than getting blown out," said Huff, who had one of the interceptions.
Ryan completed 5 of 6 passes after taking over at the Atlanta 20-yard line with 40 seconds left, and Matt Bryant kicked a 55-yard field goal with one second remaining to give the unbeaten Falcons a 23-20 victory over the stunned Raiders.
"We hadn't been getting the job done, but we thought we could play with anyone, and we showed it," Raiders linebacker Phillip Wheeler said. "To still not come up with a win hurts, man. It really hurts."
The Raiders allowed Roethlisberger and Manning to complete 66 of 87 passes for 722 yards and a combined 126.7 passer rating in games against Pittsburgh and Denver before the bye week.
But the Raiders defense looked like a different group against Ryan, who came in with a 106.1 rating and 13 touchdowns to three interceptions. The Falcons had just 286 yards to 474 for the Raiders.
"Anytime you can take the ball
Joselio Hanson, filling in for the injured Shawntae Spencer at cornerback, intercepted a pass on the fourth play from scrimmage. Huff had an interception at the 2-yard line to stop a Falcons drive late in the first quarter, and safety Tyvon Branch picked off Ryan's pass in the second quarter when Wheeler came in on a blitz.
"We were talking about who would finally get the first one all week," Hanson said.
"We never lost hope," Huff said. "When they come, they come in bunches."
But the Raiders couldn't get a fourth turnover, and Ryan eventually got the Falcons in position for another late win.
"We didn't make the play in the end when we needed to," Huff said.
Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez caught Ryan's last two passes, the final one a 13-yarder that put the ball on the Raiders' 37. That was enough for Bryant to kick the winner.
"No one gave us a chance, but we almost pulled it off," Huff said.
"They're a good team, but they have weaknesses like everyone else," said Wheeler, who led the Raiders with 10 tackles. "We took advantage of them, but we needed to do just a little more."
"All three of them were on me," Ryan said of the interceptions. "I just didn't do a good job with ball security. The first one, the guy just undercut it and made a good play. ... The second one, I needed to throw a little bit farther. The third one, the ball needs to come out earlier."
After not touching Manning and having just three sacks in the first four games, the Raiders finally got a pass rush. Matt Shaughnessy had the only sack, but Ryan was hurried on nine other passes.
"We know we can be an elite defense," Huff said. "We have the talent."
"We played well," Wheeler said. "We just have to do a little more. A little more."