The Atlanta Falcons came into this contest with an absolute chip on their shoulder after getting thoroughly dominated at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday. The team saw a magnitude of mistakes that cost them early and often, but the team is hoping to bounce back as they hosted the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football. The Falcons and Eagles have played each other tough over the last few seasons and with upgrades at some important positions, Philadelphia definitely arrived as a formidable opponent.
The Falcons would come out aggressive on offense as they got the ball 1st. A great combination of run and pass, got the ball up to the 40 yard line of Philadelphia but the drive stalled. Matt Bryant connected from 50 yards out and the Birds were up early, 3-0 with 9:28 left in the 1st. Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant intercepted a pass by Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz but the offense could not take advantage. The defenses would control the game until the 2nd Quarter where the Eagles went on a 9 play, 27 yard drive that resulted in a 34 yard field goal by Jake Elliott, tying the contest up at 3 at the 10:45 mark.
The Falcons would get the ball back and get to the 40 again to attempt another Matt Bryant field goal but he missed from 50 yards out, leaving the score tied at 3. After another Trufant interception, the Falcon offense would get cooking as they went on 5 play, 65 drive and scored on a Matt Ryan to Calvin Ridley touchdown of 34 yards. After the extra point, the score was now 10-3 with 4:56 left in the half.
The Falcons would get the ball back with 1:43 left in the second quarter, but Ryan would throw a ball behind intended receiver Mohamed Sanu and it would get picked off by Eagles defensive back Sydney Jones. Philly would get the ball with 43 seconds left in the half and go on an 8 play, 18 yard drive and would settle for another Elliott Field Goal from 41 yards out to go into the break, losing 10-6.
At the start of the second half, Falcons defensive back Kendall Sheffield would force a Corey Clement fumble on the Philadelphia kickoff return. It was recovered by Sharrod Neasman and the Falcons would go to work on offense. After a 24 yard completion to running back Devonta Freeman, Ryan would finish the drive with a 4 yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones, bringing the score to 17-6 early in the 3rd Quarter.
On the 2nd offensive series of the half, Ryan would throw another ill-advised interception and the Eagles would go on a 6 play, 27 yard drive and would score on a 4 yard touchdown pass from Wentz to Nelson Agholor. They would try a 2-pt conversion but the Falcons would stop Wentz short of the end zone making the score 17-12 with 4:13 left in the 3rd. On the next drive the Falcons would go to work and get down to the 8 yard line but Ryan would throw his 3rd interception of the game and Philly would take over at their own 9 after a penalty and ran one play to end the quarter.
Both teams went back and forth in the 4th quarter until Philadelphia went on a 13 play, 73 yard drive and they scored on a one yard run by Wentz. The Eagles went for another 2 point conversion and got it when Wentz hit tight end Zach Ertz, making the score 20-17 with 3:13 left in the contest.
Atlanta got the ball back, got to a 4th and 3. That is where Ryan hit Julio Jones on a slip screen and he raced 54 yards for a Falcon touchdown, reaching a top speed of 20 miles per hour while maintaining Olympic-sprinter like strides as Eagles safety Andrew Sendejo failed to run Jones down. With the extra point, Atlanta was now back up 24-20 with 2:08 left in the game.
“OK, it’s a footrace now,” Jones said. “That was it. It really wasn’t like I had to try hard or anything like that. I just had to stay on course.”
With that touchdown, Jones now holds the Atlanta Falcons receiving yards record, surpassing Roddy White with 10,868 yards.
“He’s had a lot of great ones, that’s for sure,” said Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. “It’s special for him to break a record that way, in such a critical situation, in such a clutch moment. That’s pretty cool.”
The Philadelphia offense got the ball back with 2:03 left and got the ball down to the 9 but was stopped on 4th down and the Falcons left with a victory.
“All-in-all, I was proud of the toughness of our team,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said after the game. “I said we’d find out a lot in the locker room last week about who we are. After such a difficult performance we had told the team there is a really big difference between playing hard and playing well. I told you after the game I thought we played hard but we didn’t play well.
“So, tonight, to have an ending and a finish like that, with the game-winning touchdown and then to come back and get a fourth-down stop for the win, I think it showed a lot of toughness, a lot of heart and what we stand for.”
The Falcons will travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts next Sunday at 1:00.