Falcons 20, Eagles 3.
After watching the Eagles offense this pre-season, I would have laughed if you told me they would have only had 3 points at the half. However, that was the reality for the Eagles, as they were down 17 at the half for the second straight opener in a row.
The first half was dominated by the Falcons. New head coach Dan Quinn was showing off his defensive prowess, holding rushing champion DeMarco Murray to -4 yards in the first half. The Falcons also made life uncomfortable for Sam Bradford, intercepting him on an awkward throw on first down. It was a pass that Bradford clearly forced with pressure in his face, maybe showing his rust. The Falcons offense was also taking it to Philadelphia in the first half. They scored 20 points in the first half, with two touchdown passes to Julio Jones. Jones was owning Byron Maxwell for most of the night as Billy Davis played his patented press man coverage; not the best recipe with an All-Pro receiver. The second of Jones’ touchdowns came after a strip sack by Philadelphia was negated by a questionable illegal hands call against Kiko Alsonso. Overall, the secondary looked as lackluster as they did last season, with the only bright spots being Kiko Alonso‘s Odell Beckham like catch, and a solid run defense.
The second half began and it was like the teams had traded places. On the opening drive of the second half, Matt Ryan was intercepted by Walter Thurmond in Falcons territory. This lead to a DeMarco Murray rushing touchdown. Their next possession the Eagles marched down the field 95 yards, ending in a Murray touchdown reception. The drive included four penalties. It was the first time a touchdown drive included four penalties since 2008. The Eagles defense then held strong against this explosive Falcons offense again. After a Bryant field goal, the Eagles took the lead behind the other running back, Ryan Matthews. All of the sudden, the once lifeless Eagles were leading the game. However, this did not last long. Eventually, the Falcons completed a pass to tonight’s MVP, Julio Jones. It was a 40 yard completion that put the Falcons into field goal range, leading to Matt Bryant drilling his fourth field goal of the night. Then, things got interesting for the Philadelphia Eagles.
With around three minutes left in the game the Eagles faced a 3rd and 1 in Atlanta territory. The Eagles had been unstoppable all second half. They were well on their way to putting more points on the board, against a visibly tired Falcons defense. The next play, Ryan Matthews got stopped at the line of scrimmage. In hindsight, this was the biggest mistake made by Chip Kelly all game. You can’t spend all of that money on DeMarco Murray, the man who rushed for over 1800 yards, and leave him on the bench when he is needed most. This leads to the most frustrating event for a football fan. A kicker missing a go-ahead field goal. Kickers have feelings they say. Kickers are people too they say, Well I don’t care what they say, Parkey has gotta make that field goal. It is inside 40 yards, which seems to be automatic in today’s NFL. If you go back and read my reaction to the Eagles’ pre-season opener, you can see that Parkey appeared to be an issue, missing an extra point and a field goal. And this issue will loomed large tonight. The Eagles eventually got the ball back, and Bradford threw an interception that went off of Jordan Matthews‘ hands. Ball game, Eagles go down 26-24. Yes, the Eagles are 0-1 without Tim Tebow. Now the Eagles will host the Dallas Cowboys, in perhaps a must-win game in week 2.
Matt Ryan– 23-34, 298 yards, 2 tds 1 int.
Sam Bradford– 36-52, 336 yards, 1 td 2 int.
Tevin Coleman- 20 arries for 80 yards
DeMarco Murray- 8 rushes for 9 yards 2 tds (one rushing)
Darren Sproles– 5 rushes for 50 yards. 7 receptions for 76 yards
Jordan Matthews– 10 receptions for 102 yards
Julio Jones– 9 receptions for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns