Eagles vs. Falcons: Two Birds Flying in Different Directions
Regardless of who won the game, an undefeated record would have been broken by someone during yesterday’s (10/28) Eagles/Falcons game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. Going into Sunday, Eagles’ coach Andy Reid was 13-0 in games following a bye week, and the Falcons were 6-0 in the 2012 season. This Week Eight Showdown was predicted to be a shootout to the finish, with both teams’ offenses being in the upper half of the ‘yards-per-game’ category in the league. Instead of an anticipated tight battle, the Falcons routed the Eagles 30-17. Atlanta’s offense exploited the flaws in Philadelphia’s newly coached defense, and Atlanta’s defense contained the many weapons on the Eagles’ offense to a mere 270 yards.
The Eagles felt that things were not going to go their way right away. On the second play from scrimmage, Eagles lineman Fletcher Cox dropped a potential interception and later, Jason Babin was flagged for pass interference on a third-and-long to refresh the Falcons’ set of downs. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan capitalized on his third chance, leading an 80-yard drive down the field and throwing a touchdown pass to D.J. Davis on a blown coverage by safety Kurt Coleman. It all went downhill from there for the Eagles, going three-and-out on the following drive and suffering a three-yard touchdown pass to tailback Jason Snelling. After a rushing touchdown by Eagles’ Lesean McCoy, Ryan responded with a 63-yard bomb to wide-out Julio Jones to make it 21-7. Atlanta’s Matt Bryant then knocked in three field goals and Philadelphia’s Alex hennery knocked in one to make it 30-10 with 14:57 to go in the fourth quarter. The Eagles scored again with seven minutes left, but failed to put more points on the board during their last three possessions.
During Sunday’s game, just as the Eagles appeared to have solved one problem – turnovers – a new problem arose: a meltdown of the defense’s secondary. Before Week Eight, the Eagles led the NFL in giveaways, with eight interceptions and nine fumbles, three by Vick. This game, despite the rain and wind, Vick didn’t turn the ball over once. The Eagles defense has now become the issue, as the Falcons put points on the board on every drive until midway through the fourth quarter. Cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie allowed 161 receiving yards to their counterparts on the other side of the ball, Roddy White and Julio Jones. The Eagles look to get back to .500 against Drew Brees and the Saints next Sunday Night.
The question that arose after Sunday’s game is if analysts consider this a bigger loss for the Eagles or a bigger win for the Falcons. Whatever one’s view, one must give credit to the Falcons, who, despite being 6-0 for the first time in their history, were dubbed as being more lucky than skillful. After Sunday, by going into Lincoln Financial Field in run-complementing weather and facing an Eagles team that is dangerous as ever after a bye, maybe a few people will begin to rethink how dangerous the birds from the South really are. The Falcons have now outscored their first seven opponents 201-130, gaining, on average, 77.2 more yards per game than their opponents. The Falcons’ remaining matchups consist of playing teams with a current .420 winning percentage. So, if the Falcons keep playing the way they’re playing, they could possibly lock up a playoff spot with more than a third left of the season.