Falcons streak past Eagles
The Falcons extend their record to 7-0 with a 30-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Falcons built an early lead, and pretty much were on cruise control for most of the day as the Eagles struggled to find a rhythm and made a lot of mental errors. Mike Smith pushes his post-bye record to 4-1, and gets revenge for his lone loss suffered against the Eagles in 2008. This win also snaps the Eagles post-bye win streak of 13 games under Andy Reid. Mike Smith has now won 50 games with the Falcons, making him the winningest coach in franchise history, passing Dan Reeves (1997-2003) with 49 wins.
Matt Ryan had another brilliant performance, completing 22 of 29 passes for 262 yards and 3 touchdowns. On the ground, Jacquizz Rodgers led rushers with 60 yards on 8 carries, including a 43-yard run late in the game. Michael Turner added 58 yards on 24 carries. Julio Jones and Rodgers tied for the team lead with 5 receptions each. Jones had 123 yards and a score, while Rodgers contributed 20 yards in the passing game. Roddy White (3 catches, 38 yards), Tony Gonzalez (3 catches, 29 yards), and Jason Snelling (3 catches, 16 yards, 1 touchdown) also made contributions. D.J. Davis caught his first two passes of his NFL career for 30 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown to start the game for the Falcons. Matt Bryant connected on 3 field goal tries of 43, 29, and 30 yards. Matt Bosher was forced to punt only once, not coming until the fourth quarter which went for 52 yards. He had another punt attempt blocked. Rodgers returned a pair of kickoffs for a total of 30 yards, while Dominique Franks had a single punt return for 11 yards.
Defensively, the Falcons limited the Eagles to only 256 yards of total offense and were able to get to Michael Vick 3 times. Thomas DeCoud led defenders with 9 tackles, and he also recorded one of those sacks. John Abraham (3 tackles, 1 sack); Kroy Biermann (7 tackles, 1 sack); Robert McClain (6 tackles); William Moore (3 tackles, 1 forced fumble); Stephen Nicholas (5 tackles); Chris Owens (2 tackles); Dunta Robinson (2 tackles); and Sean Weatherspoon (6 tackles) all had noteworthy games.
The game began with a strong start by the Falcons offense. D.J. Davis caught his first NFL pass on the Falcons first 3rd down attempt of the game, going 15 yards to convert. The Falcons committed to the ground with their next four plays, as Turner and Rodgers each had a pair of carries for a combined 17 yards. Then Ryan found Roddy White on a 10-yard gain to convert a second third down try, as the Falcons now crossed midfield. A few plays later Ryan hit Tony Gonzalez for an 11-yard gain to put the ball inside the redzone. Then on a busted coverage by the Eagles, three plays later Ryan found Davis wide open in the endzone on a 15-yard score to put the Falcons up 7-0 after draining nearly 9 minutes of time off the clock to start the game. The defense responded with a three-and-out, including a sack by DeCoud on 3rd & 11 to force an Eagles punt. The Falcons started their next offensive series from their own 49-yard line. A pass interference call on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the fifth play of the drive put the ball at the Eagles’ 10-yard line. Four plays later, Ryan hit Jason Snelling on a quick shovel pass for a 3-yard score to push the Falcons lead to 14-0 with 32 seconds left in the first quarter. With the second quarter beginning, the Eagles offense finally got into gear. Via a 3-yard pass to DeSean Jackson and a 7-yard scramble, Vick was able to convert a pair of third downs to get the ball into Falcon territory. Then LeSean McCoy hit the Falcons for 16 yards on his next three carries to put the ball at the Falcons’ 7-yard line. Bryce Brown stepped in for a 5-yard gain on the next play, despite being stripped by William Moore as he went to the ground. He was able to recover, and McCoy re-entered the game to punch it in from 2 yards to cut the Falcons lead in half with 8:18 to play in the first half. But the Falcons responded with a quick strike, as Ryan found Julio Jones down the sideline on a 63-yard bomb on the fourth play of the series. Jones outraced the Eagles secondary and pushed the Falcons lead back to 14 points on a drive that lasted just 1 minute, 45 seconds. On the Eagles ensuing offensive possession, they were only successful at pushing the ball to midfield before punting it back to Atlanta with 2:48 left to play in the first half. A pair of 10-yard runs by Ryan and Rodgers started to move the ball. Ryan then hit 4 of his next 5 passes to get the ball down to the Eagles 26-yard line. But he could get nothing on his next two pass plays, and Matt Bryant trotted onto the field for his first field goal attempt. He nailed it from 43 yards to push the Falcons lead to 24-7 with 2 seconds left to go in the first half.
The Eagles got the ball to start the second half, and thanks largely to a 32-yard gain by DeSean Jackson working against Asante Samuel, the Eagles were able to get inside the Falcons redzone. But the Falcons defense stood strong, and forced the Eagles to have to settle for a 33-yard field goal from Alex Henery rather than a touchdown. The Falcons now held a 24-10 lead with 11:20 to go in the third quarter. The Falcons had a steady mix of run and pass on their next offensive series, going 69 yards on 12 plays, ultimately settling on a 29-yard field goal from Bryant to push the lead back to 17. Five of those dozen plays were runs, including Turner gaining 19 yards on 4 carries. Ryan also connected with Jones for a 37-yard gain. The Falcons had an opportunity to score a touchdown, but Jones was flagged for illegal touching by going out of bounds and coming back in at the back of the endzone. That penalty followed by a sack on Ryan largely contributed to the Falcons settling for a field goal after being 1st & goal from the 5-yard line at one point during the drive. The Eagles responded with a three-and-out. A defensive pass interference call against Mychal Kendricks on the second play of the Falcons next series gave them a first down. Two plays later, Rodgers burst upfield for a 43-yard gain to put the ball in Eagle territory. Three of their next five plays would be runs, but ultimately could not drive the ball into the endzone, and Bryant had his third field goal try go through the uprights from 30 yards out to give the Falcons a 30-10 lead with the fourth quarter beginning. The Eagles offense was able to successfully move the ball downfield 80 yards on 16 plays on their next drive. Vick found McCoy on a 7-yard pass to cap the drive. On that drive, McCoy touched the ball 8 times, accounting for 41 yards on 6 carries and 2 receptions. The Falcons offense had their first punt of the game on the next drive after a three-and-out. But the Eagles offense coudln’t get much going with just 5 minutes left in the game, moving the ball only 13 yards on 5 plays, including 15 yards that they were given on a personal foul penalty on Stephen Nicholas. The Falcons tried to run out the clock on their next series, but Turner was only able to gain 3 yards on 2 carries, and Ryan was sacked on 3rd down for another three-and-out. Bosher’s punt was partially blocked by Casey Matthews, and declared dead after going only 19 yards. But the Falcons defense continued its pressure, as Kroy Biermann collected a sack on the opening play of the next series, and the Eagles could only gain 9 yards on their next 4 plays, turning it over on downs with 2:24 left in the game. The Falcons would eat up another 2 minutes on five plays, before the Eagles got the ball back with 14 seconds left in the game. Two short passes by Vick and the game was now over.
The Falcons will return home next week to face the Dallas Cowboys. The Falcons have lost their last two games against the Cowboys, including a 37-21 loss in 2009. They lost 38-28 in the Georgia Dome back in 2006. The Falcons are 2-3 all-time in the Georgia Dome against the Cowboys. The Falcons have won 5 straight home games coming directly off a road win, and 12-3 all-time under Mike Smith in those circumstances.