This was a hard-ass-hitting game on both sides.
If this had been a heavyweight prize fight, it would have been stopped in the 9th round due to excessive bleeding…to the Eagles’ credit, they damn near stole the fight anyway.
It came down to two 4th-down plays for each team…one that worked for the Falcons when Matt Ryan audibled a check to Julio Jones on a zero-cover blitz which passed the legal test for a so-called pick play, and one which didn’t work for Carson Wentz when a physically beaten down Zach Ertz came just a half-yard short of setting up a winning score.
Wow. If you like football, this game had it all—the good, bad and ugly. If you love the Eagles, your guts were wrenched by the fight this team put up in the face of multiple casualties.
This one may go down as the “Reverse Body Bag Game”…
Try to keep up with this:
TE Dallas Goedert goes down in warmups with a calf injury…
WR DeSean Jackson gone after three plays with a groin injury…
WR Alshon Jeffrey strains a calf muscle after five plays…
QB Carson Wentz is visibly hurting from a rib shot, then is taken off the field for concussion evaluation—Josh McCown fills in for him in the 2nd quarter…
TE Zach Ertz gets pummeled entire game, limps off field late in game before signing back in for the final drive…
DT Tim Jernigan exits game with foot injury, now in a walking boot…
RB/KR Corey Clement separates his shoulder on a fumbled kickoff return…
WR Nelson Agholor gets his bell rung and somehow passes concussion protocol in the medical tent….
C Jason Kelce is virtually TKO’d by Grady Jarrett and wanders off to the Atlanta bench…
LT Jason Peters staggered off the field in crunch time but returned for the final drive.
Yeah, it was that kind of night. Atlanta was gasping at the end, too.
For a lot of reasons the Eagles’ offense was awful in the first half, and the injuries had a lot to do with it. Wentz’ mechanics were clearly way off after getting crunched in the rib cage early in the game. He was overthrowing and underthrowing a lot of open targets. The running game wasn’t working, either. For some reason, Doug didn’t listen to me about how good the Atlanta front is at stopping runs between the tackles.
Still, the Eagles trailed just 17-12 late in the third quarter after a Wentz touchdown pass to Agholor on a fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line. The two-point conversion failed as Wentz was stopped just short of the end zone on a scramble run. Atlanta came back and drove into the red zone when linebacker Nathan Gerry picked off a Matt Ryan pass in the end zone to stop another drive.
At that point DC Jim Schwartz had got the Eagles back in the game by ratcheting up zero-cover blitz pressure on Ryan. It was working well, so well that Schwartzie went to it once too often.
The Falcons (1-1) squandered a 17-6 lead largely because Schwartz dialed up the pressure. Turnovers resulted, and three Matt Ryan interceptions later Wentz finally had it going, completing eight straight passes on a drive that culminated with his 1-yard plunge into the end zone with 3:13 remaining. A two-point conversion gave the Eagles a 20-17 lead.
Schwartz went for the kill shot with another blitz call, but Ryan’s audible to Jones bailed out Atlanta — and Julio became Atlanta’s career leader in receiving yards with his winning score. On fourth-and-3 at the Falcons 46, Jones dropped behind the line to haul in Matt Ryan‘s short pass, got a crunching block from left tackle Jake Matthews out on the edge and took off down the sideline, easily outrunning Rodney McLeod and Andrew Sendejo without being touched.
Philadelphia (1-1) had a chance at the end when Wentz converted on fourth-and-14, somehow getting off a pass with a rusher in his chest that Nelson Agholor hauled in between two defenders for a 43-yard completion to the 18. But Atlanta held on, stopping an exhausted Zach Ertz about a half-yard short of the marker on another fourth-down play inside the 10 with 29 seconds left on the clock.
Much will be made of the long-term effects of this loss on the Eagles—not so much from losing the game, but from possibly realizing this team is so vulnerable to injury at nearly every position (including QB) that its much-advertised “depth” really ain’t that deep.
|Passing 1st downs||11||15|
|Rushing 1st downs||5||3|
|1st downs from penalties||2||1|
|3rd down efficiency||9-18||3-10|
|4th down efficiency||2-3||1-1|
|Yards per Play||4.0||6.0|
|Yards per pass||4.6||7.0|
|Yards per rush||2.3||3.4|
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||2-5||1-2|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
With Jackson and Jeffery sidelined, Agholor stepped up to make eight catches for 107 yards and a TD. But he let a potential go-ahead score slip through his hands with under 2 minutes to go after breaking free down the left sideline. Agholor said he lost the ball in the lights of the retractable-roof stadium but said, “I’ve still got to make that play. That’s something we prepared for in pregame.”
Atlanta’s Calvin Ridley had the second 100 -yard receiving game of his career, hauling in eight passes for 105 yards including a 34-yard TD. If you wanted to get technical about it, Ridley was the difference-maker in exposing the weak spots in the Eagles’ first-half pass defense, which made Schwartz’s decision to go for broke with the blitz a lot easier.