Final: Philadelphia 24, Atlanta 15
The Eagles attained a much needed win over the high-octane Atlanta Falcons and their offense at home on Sunday. They came into the game desperate to snap a two-game losing streak and played inspired football on both sides en route to yet another multiple score win at home. This game was within one score for almost its entirety, however, before the Falcons failed to convert on a 4th down late in the fourth quarter in their own territory, turning the ball over to the Eagles allowing them to kick a field goal bringing their lead to nine points. They sealed the win with a Leodis McKelvin pick on the following drive. Let’s take a look at some specifics from this contest.
To start, the Philly defense was solid yet again at home. In their four home games, Jim Schwartz’s unit has allowed a total of 38 points. The 15 they yielded today was actually the most an opponent has scored on them at the Linc by far this season. The D was able to stay fresh as the offense helped them out by staying on the field for 38:10. When they were on the field, they were impressive. Julio Jones had his looks for sure, but when he was in the game Nolan Carroll was excellent shadowing him. Jalen Mills drew Julio in certain occasions as well and did a fine job. After Carroll left with a concussion he was replaced by a hobbled Leodis McKelvin who was certainly a liability on the back end. He surrendered a 76-yard touchdown to Taylor Gabriel early in the fourth and was beaten by Jones almost every time he was matched up with him. The Philly front four was not too bad in this game, but they did not get as much pressure on Matt Ryan as they would have liked in this game. Luckily the coverage on the back end was good enough to hold the Atlanta offense at bay. Most importantly for the Eagles, their entire team tackled. Mychal Kendricks had his best game of the year by far and was peeling off of blocks left and right to make plays. Malcolm Jenkins played at an all-pro level in this contest making multiple open field take-downs and plastering to his receivers showing some good coverage skills. Bennie Logan returned from injury for his first time in a couple of weeks and his presence was a huge positive for Fletcher Cox, who had been pretty silent over the past month. Having another disruptive force on the inside next to him created more one-on-one opportunities and he was able to bull rush Matt Ryan. Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin notched sacks in this game as well showing that the Eagles got enough pressure on Ryan to affect his play in the contest.
On the opposite side of the ball, the Atlanta defense was not very good. They did not necessarily have a tough time tackling, but they were picked apart underneath by Carson Wentz. Darren Sproles was a nightmare out of the backfield crossing the face of many linebackers en route to eight catches for 57 yards. Highly touted Keanu Neal was around the line of scrimmage and tackled pretty well. He was defeated in coverage a couple of times, however, and that is probably his biggest weakness that is detectable through his first ten games. Vic Beasley forced a fumble in the second quarter on Wentz and was by far Atlanta’s most effective pass rusher. The Falcons really struggled to get any kind of pressure on the Eagles’ rookie QB and a lot of that was due to them being able to run the ball. Atlanta was physically dominated on the inside and their players really had trouble getting off of their blocks. They best defender for them had to be nickel-corner Brian Poole. The rookie was great in coverage and was able to defend a pass and blanket most of his assignments. He has really stood out in the absence of Atlanta’s true number one cover corner in Desmond Trufant.
The Eagles offense was good between the twenties today as they were able to run the ball at will towards the interior of the Atlanta defense. Ryan Mathews ran angry and did not account for any negative plays. Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles were sprinkled in as excellent change-of-pace backs and that helped Philly control the clock. The team had struggled in recent weeks with long third down conversion tries, and this time around they kept the down in distance manageable throughout. This kept the Falcons explosive offense off the field and helped them create passing opportunities for Carson Wentz. Wentz made very few mistakes and was generally accurate throwing the ball. Once again, drops really hurt the Eagles in this game, but one encouraging thing for them was the fact that Jordan Matthews was able to get open. He ran some nice routes and finished the game with six catches for 73 yards. Zach Ertz became more of an option for his rookie QB for the second straight week and seems poised for a potential breakout. He did, however, have a negative impact with a couple of false starts. On the offensive line, Jason Peters had his best game of the season and was constantly getting to the second level on his blocks. The Eagles primarily ran the ball inside, but when they did go outside it was on the left behind #71. Bryce Treggs and Dorial Green-Beckham did not receive targets in the offense.
The Atlanta offense was not bad by any means; they just were not on the field all that much. Matt Ryan not bad at all in the contest. He floated a couple of beautiful rainbow passes in the face of pressure and showed enough pocket movement to frustrate Philly. Being unable to break any big runs really hurt the Falcons, however. They were a one-dimensional offense that became predictable as the game wore on. Surprisingly, the Falcons wide receivers were not able to get open very much. The Atlanta wide-outs versus the Philadelphia corners was looked at as one of the biggest mis-matches in this game, but the Eagles DBs played well enough and the Falcon receivers could not get open for a good part of this one. Julio Jones was, as he usually is, the top target and most explosive player. He finished his day with ten catches for 135 yards, but did have a couple of critical drops later in the fourth quarter that came one a third down and fourth down killing potential scoring drives for his team. Taylor Gabriel got loose for a 76 yard touchdown, but that was really the only explosive play that Atlanta mustered all game. Their defensive line, which has been very underrated all year had a sneaky good performance in pass protection here. They weren’t perfect by any means, but they did provide Ryan with all the time he could ask for against a very good Philly front-four. Tevin Coleman was a scratch in this game and he was very much missed in this game. He could have been a match-up headache against a Philadelphia team that has not been very good in coverage against outlets out of the back field.
Special teams are worth mentioning here as well. The Eagles continue to have the best special teams unit in the sport and they received a couple of huge run-backs from Kenjon Barner. Matt Bryant missed a field goal in the second quarter and Caleb Sturgis missed two. He did hit the game-sealing 48 yarder with less than two minutes to go. Punter Matt Bosher left the contest in the third quarter with a hamstring injury and Bryant had to punt the ball for the remainder. He did a nice job in that department.
The Eagles needed a win over the Falcons to save their season and they got it. This was largely due to their ability to run the ball and play some complimentary defense. They tackled well and were able to win the battle up front with their offensive line. Atlanta simply was not on the field enough to have a significant impact in this one. The Falcons hit the BYE at 6-4 and up in the NFC South by a two and a half games over the Buccaneers and Saints. They are still in good shape. The Eagles are still at the bottom of a very competitive NFC East division with a 5-4 record and they will head to Seattle. This was an important win for them to keep them in the mix. With three home games against their division looming in December, this team is far from out of it if they can continue to play well at home and stay in games on the road.
- A couple of Julio Jones drops in the fourth quarter bogged the Falcons down late in this game. The receivers did not have much luck getting open and/or creating separation from the Philadelphia defensive backs all game.
- The Atlanta defense was pushed around quite a bit and their defensive line was very quiet throughout the duration of this game. This was a weakness coming into the contest and it was exposed on Sunday.
- Matt Ryan delivered some very nice passes under pressure and did all that he could to bring his team a victory in south Philly. The weapons around him failed to create splash plays.
- Carson Wentz was on target for a majority of the game and was helped out by a very effective running game starting with Ryan Mathews who finished the game with two touchdowns and 109 yards.
- The Philly defense was outstanding in this contest. They stopped the run and missed hardly any tackles . Simply put, they made the plays that were in front of them and the Falcons did not always do that.
- Philadelphia’s special teams had a huge impact on the game. They continue to cover kicks very well and their return game is tops in the NFL. Caleb Stugis was 3/5 kicking field goals on the afternoon.