A late surge was not enough for the Philadelphia Eagles as they fall to Atlanta 26-24 in their season opener. The Eagles went into the Georgia Dome with high expectations. After the first quarter things began to take a sour turn as the Offense was held to two three and outs…a rollercoaster game filled with flags, mistakes, interceptions and shakes was set to take place. There will be plenty of articles tomorrow deeply analysing each aspect of the gut wrenching loss, but here’s our full recap:
The game was littered with bad play-calls and mistakes from the Eagles. To sum it up, the birds had 52 passes and 16 rushes, surely numbers Chip didn’t have in mind. But that was only the tip of the iceberg..
The Eagles lacked coverage early on, leaving many to associate new signing Byron Maxwell with Nnamdi Asomugha. The former Seahawk was constantly being burnt out and Julio was being marked by Nolan Carroll, it confused many including the Falcons, who milked it for all they could.
To make matters worse, the man who had the cameras focused on him all night had a terribly slow start. Sam Bradford opened the game with minimal completions, three quick three and outs and an interception just before the half ended. A lot of his slow progress was down to the Offensive Line not giving him enough time and the fact that this was a fresh Falcons Defense focused on rushing the passer.
There was a glimmer of hope however as one new signing didn’t want to be shouted down over Twitter tonight… Kiko Alonso made a HUGE interception in the end-zone to save the Eagles from a shocking opening half. Odell, are you playing linebacker now? You never told us…
The Falcons built up a 10 point lead as the teams headed into the final two minutes of the opening half when Bradford made his first pick of the night. Moments later, Fletcher Cox attacked Matt Ryan with everything he had to strip the ball away and give the Eagles possession once again, but the call was overturned due to a Kiko Alonso holding call that arguably should never have been. One play later..Julio rinsed Maxwell for a touchdown..a matchup that was very reminiscent of Dez vs Fletcher..
Halftime was a period for reflection. The Eagles have been here before, remember Jacksonville? 17-0 down at the half..the birds can come back from this. To start with it looked like they just might. Walter Thurmond leaped across a slant to pick off Matt Ryan and set up the perfect opportunity for the Eagles to finally get the ball rolling. It was the college connection that put the first TD on the board, Bradford to Murray with a huge block from Kelce led the Eagles in for the touchdown.
The next Eagles possession would be a critical yet angering one. Four penalties were called throughout the duration of the drive..the same number of penalties that the Falcons endured for the entire game up to that point. But somehow..some way..Bradford forced his Eagles 95 yards back the other way across 13 plays and found Murray again for a 5 yard touchdown, Bradford’s first passing TD for the Eagles and his 60th overall.
Bradford came alive in the second half, pass after pass after pass, the Falcons Defense may have coped early on but the conditioning was beginning to settle in, the fatigue was wearing them down and the former number one pick could almost smell the fear of a comeback through the trenches.
Then, for the first time all night, the Eagles took the lead. Another march down the Georgia Dome from Sam Bradford led to a rushing touchdown from Ryan Matthews. The $60m dollar backfield was showing its worth tonight, even if it was getting minimal snaps. They accounted for three Eagles touchdowns on the night.
But moments later, Fletcher..I mean Williams..I mean Maxwell was toasted by one of the leagues best again. Julio Jones won that matchup in every aspect. From the opening whistle to the closing QB kneel, Maxwell has a lot to answer for and can be thankful that the Cowboys are without Dez next week. The Falcons kicked the Field Goal leaving the travelling side a lot of work to do.
But it was no issue for Sam Bradford who strung together more successful passes than there were flags in the game..(okay nothing will EVER hit that number) to bring the team in field goal range. It’s important to note that Bradford should not be blamed for any of the second half misfortune. The first half, sure he was slow off the mark..in fact he looked like Nick Foles did last year. But in the second half, pre-season Bradford came back to town as he played the long game and we began to #believethesleeves.
And then…the strangest call of the night. Sproles had been chewing up the Falcons all night, Bradford was in better rhythm than the drummer of Metallica and the Offense was storming through the field. The team hit 4th&1 in field goal range…and Chip….decided to opt to go for a field goal. Chip, did not choose to go for the one yard when his team had been ripping apart the Falcons all drive, and invested his trust in young Cody Parkey who was rushed onto the field. Parkey was rushed into a decision as well and the ball sailed wide of the mark..leaving Eagles fans devastated.
But by some miracle, the arguable Eagles MVP of the night Malcolm Jenkins stormed across from right to left, through the trenches to stop the run and give the Eagles one last shot. 1:49 remained and one timeout with it for Sam Bradford and company to march down the field. But in their most desperate moment, the Eagles let it slip. All of that build up, all of that work, all of that success in the second half in performing exactly how the team were expected to…faded. Matthews had a pass ricochet out of his hands and into the safe arms of Falcons safety Ricardo Allen to end the game..Matthews looked distraught, kneeling over in the middle of the field.
Bradford had a fantastic second half there is no doubting it. The Defense as a whole didn’t look THAT bad and the pass rush was more efficient than ever. But corners still need some work and there were some terrible decisions alongside more flags than there were throughout the Daytona 500 this year.
The Eagles leave the Georgia Dome with a heavy loss, a loss nobody expected them to bear. They will now have to pick themselves up and get ready for an intense war with the Cowboys. Bradford needs to sink into that rhythm quicker because another overall team performance like that against Dallas…won’t sit well.
Like we mentioned above, we will be tearing into this game throughout the coming week so be sure to keep checking back for evaluations on individual players, what went wrong and much more.