The Falcons got down early to the Philadelphia Eagles on the road and ultimately lose the game 31-17. Struggles on both sides of the ball got the Falcons done to an early 21-0 deficit, and they were unable to overcome it.
Matt Ryan finished the day 23 of 42 for 250 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception in what was a pretty mundane performance. The Falcons ground attack was ineffective early on and largely abandoned in the second half. Michael Turner finished with 15 carries for 45 yards. Jason Snelling added 3 carries for 17 yards. Roddy White led receivers with 6 catches for 83 yards. The team welcomed back Michael Jenkins, who had missed the previous five games with a shoulder injury. He came up with 5 catches for 99 yards, a career high for him. Harry Douglas added 4 catches for 32 yards, and Tony Gonzalez had 3 catches for 19 yards, including both of Ryan’s passing touchdowns.
The Falcons were stagnant on third downs, converting 4 of 14 attempts. They failed to convert their first five third down attempts. The offensive line got pushed around, making little way on the ground and giving up 3 sacks to the Eagles defense. The offense started to get things going midway through the second quarter, driving down the field on an 11-play, 52-yard drive. But on a 3rd & 6 from the Eagles 22-yard line, Ryan’s throw to Tony Gonzalez was dropped and tipped into the hands of Asante Samuel at the 8-yard line. The Falcons would not score until their next offensive series, set up by a William Moore interception that would set them up at the Eagles 31 yard to start, closing out the first half. The offense continued its struggles in the redzone on their following series in the second half, driving 13 plays for 62 yards. But they were unable to score on five plays inside the redzone, ultimately settling for a 36-yard field goal from Matt Bryant. The Falcons wouldn’t score again until 5:45 remaining in the fourth quarter to take the game to 28-17. A failed onside attempt following thwarted any slim hope of a comeback at that point.
Defensively, the Falcons got off to a very sluggish start. The Eagles opening offensive drive lasted two plays, as DeSean Jackson ran 31 yards for a score. Their next series wasn’t much longer, going 6 plays before Jackson got his second score on a 34-yard bomb. Big plays were a problem for the team, as they gave up an 83-yard score to Jeremy Maclin in the third quarter. The team gave up 7 plays of 20 or more yards. Curtis Lofton led the team with 14 tackles. Kroy Biermann (3 tackles), Thomas DeCoud (3 tackles), Brent Grimes (12 tackles, 1 pass defended), Peria Jerry (1 tackle, 1 sack), Moore (4 tackles, 1 interception), Stephen Nicholas (6 tackles), and Corey Peters (4 tackles) had notable games. Dunta Robinson delivered a big hit to DeSean Jackson at the beginning of the second quarter, which knocked both players out of the game.
Special teams didn’t offer much help for the Falcons. Matt Bryant hit his 26-yarder, but missed a 41-yarder due to the wind. He wasn’t the only one as the Falcons got a little bit of help as Eagles kicker David Akers missed three of his four kicks. Matt Koenen’s short punts help set up the Eagles in favorable field position. He punted 6 times for an average of only 37.8 yards. Eric Weems had 18 yards on his lone punt return and average 23.3 yards on 3 kickoff returns. Jorrick Calvin had a big 44-yard punt return, showing that the Falcons coverage units continue to struggle. The Eagles began their first five drives no deeper than their own 31-yard line, with four of their drives beginning no deeper than their own 42. They would score on 3 of those drives.
Next week the Falcons hope to bounce back with a home stand starting with the Cincinnati Bengals (2-3) who are coming off a bye. The Falcons have won two straight against the Bengals with their most recent matchup coming in 2006 with a 29-27 win. They’ve won three straight at home vs. Cincinnati dating back to 1990. This will be only the 12th meeting between the two teams, as the Falcons are behind in the series 4-7 all-time. The Falcons are 5-0 under Mike Smith at home immediately following a road loss. Under Marvin Lewis, the Bengals are 2-4-1 in games following their bye and 0-3 in road games after the bye.