You expected excellence of execution? You expected precision offense from Nick Foles and the Eagles, and a $150 million performance from Matt Ryan at the helm of the Falcons?
You would be disappointed if you did. Strange, uneven, weird, perhaps twilight-zone kinda game…
I will say the Eagles dodged many bullets in this one, not the least of which was a 52-yard juggling but GOOD reception by Julio Jones on a double-move against the Green Goblin, which would have completely changed the game had it been ruled an official catch—which it should have been. But even the review officials in New York had sympathy for the Eagle in their eyeballs last night.
We were somewhat lucky to get the win. Most of our luck was due to the off-kilter night Matt Ryan had. I don’t know what it is exactly, but Matt seems to struggle with his poise and accuracy when he plays in his hometown. He had us dead to rights in red-zone situations all night, but couldn’t seal the deal. Give DC Jim Schwartz some credit for that, of course, but Ryan was off his game.
Meanwhile the Eagles were struggling with their own offense in a different way. Couldn’t establish much of anything, really. Finally Doug Pederson started fiddling around with some unbalanced line combinations, and good stuff began happening.
Jay Ajayi had a pair of touchdown runs, Nick Foles caught another “Philly Special” pass to jump-start a sputtering offense, and the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles pulled off another defensive stand to open the season with an 18-12 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night.
A sloppy, mistake-filled game that featured 26 penalties came down to Ryan throwing an incomplete pass to Jones in the left corner of the end zone on the final play from Philadelphia’s 5. Jones caught the ball but he was legally forced out of bounds on his route.
A lightning/rain weather delay pushed the kickoff back 45 minutes, forcing fans to wait for the unveiling of the “world champions” banner following the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory. Wearing his gold Hall of Fame jacket, former safety Brian Dawkins riled up the sellout crowd with owner Jeffrey Lurie by his side and led a chorus of “Fly Eagles Fly.”
The defense fed off that energy with a strong goal-line stand on the opening series, stopping the Falcons three times at the 1.
They did it again at the end.
After Ajayi’s 11-yard TD run and 2-point conversion gave the Eagles a lead with 2:25 left, Ryan led the Falcons down the field. He completed a 36-yard pass to Jones and connected with him again for 18 yards on third-and-17.
The Falcons had a first down at the 10 but Ryan threw four straight incomplete passes. But a penalty on Jordan Hicks gave them one more chance and the Eagles held again.
Needing a spark on offense, Eagles coach Doug Pederson resorted to the “Philly Special” play that helped the Eagles beat the New England Patriots 41-33 in the Super Bowl. This time, Foles caught a 15-yard pass from Nelson Agholor to extend a drive that ended with Ajayi scoring a go-ahead 1-yard TD run in the third quarter. On third-and-5 midway through the third quarter. Corey Clement took a toss and flipped to Agholor, who threw it to Foles running open down the right side for a gain to the Falcons 26.
Foles then hit Zach Ertz for 18 yards on third-and-6 and Ajayi ran in a few plays later to put Philadelphia up 10-6.
Philadelphia’s defense overcame a pair of blunders to temporarily preserve the lead. Tre Sullivan kicked a loose ball on a punt and the Falcons recovered the “fumble” at the Eagles 32. A sack by Fletcher Cox on third down was negated by Derek Barnett‘s offside penalty to keep the drive going. But Rasul Douglas intercepted Ryan’s pass at the 4. Douglas had just come into the game to replace Ronald Darby, who had momentarily left the game with muscle cramps.
Deion Jones then intercepted Foles’ pass that bounced out of Dallas Goedert‘s hands and returned it 20 yards to Philadelphia’s 27, setting up Tevin Coleman‘s 9-yard TD run that gave the Falcons a 12-10 lead in the fourth quarter. Unbelievably, Matt Bryant hit the right post on the extra point. Bryant had kicked field goals of 52 and 21 yards in the first quarter.
When you’re hot you’re hot, and it doesn’t seem to matter if you really aren’t at full strength yet. The Eagles seem like a mirage at times, just visible enough to keep you believing. Give credit to the coaching staff of this current edition of guys for keeping them in position all night with the best helping-out schemes I’ve seen in a long time. Amazingly the Eagles out-cardio’d the Falcons in the end. We wore them out. In terms of sheer talent on the field, the Falcons should have dominated.
Eagles: WR Mack Hollins was placed on injured reserve hours before the game because of a groin injury.
|Passing 1st downs||9||6|
|Rushing 1st downs||4||7|
|1st downs from penalties||3||5|
|3rd down efficiency||4-15||8-16|
|4th down efficiency||0-1||0-0|
|Yards per Play||4.6||3.6|
|Yards per pass||4.8||3.2|
|Yards per rush||4.1||4.2|
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||1-5||2-3|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|