I don’t think the Falcons could have started this game up in Philadelphia any starter or any better than they did. And quite frankly, the Falcons wouldn’t have it any other way.
On the Falcons first offensive possession of the day, Matt Ryan led this Falcons team straight down the field 80 yards that culminate in a touchdown pass from Ryan. The interesting thing of note from that drive in particular is that Ryan found Drew Davis, a player who was filling in for an injured Harry Douglas, twice on the drive. Once for a 15-yard catch early in the drive, and then for another 15 yards in the end zone. It was a tremendous play that allowed Davis to get wide open in the endzone for the touchdown, and it was completely a credit to Matt Ryan and his interaction with all of his receivers.
The Falcons kicked off to the Eagles, and rather than begin pounding the rock with LeSean McCoy from the very beginning of the game, Philly came out throwing. A three and out ensued, and really from that moment on, the Eagles were horribly behind.
Matt Ryan led the Falcons down the field on their second offensive possession. Given a short field, the Falcons moved the ball along, and were assisted by two pass interference penalties from the Eagles. That drive resulted in a middle screen from Ryan to Jason Snelling for a 3-yard touchdown. The Falcons applied early pressure, forced a three and out, and then continued to pour pressure on.
Michael Vick and the Eagles responded well. They used Shady McCoy and went down the field and finally found the endzone. McCoy ran in for a 2-yard score. The casual observer would have realized that the Eagles had found the weakness in the Falcons, and would have expected them to keep running the ball down Atlanta’s collective throats.
That would have been a good play, had the Falcons not responded with another score of their own. On the third play of the game for Atlanta’s offense, coordinator Dirk Koetter dialed up a shot to Julio Jones on a 2nd & 14. It couldn’t have worked out better.
Jones beat Nnamdi Asomugha by a step, and that was all Matt Ryan needed. Ryan hit him deep down the left sideline. Once Jones had made the catch, he did the rest and completed a 63-yard touchdown pass, the longest passing play for the Falcons this season. It was a knockout punch delivered by the Falcons against the Eagles, despite there being two and a half quarters left to play.
Throughout the rest of the game, things went in a similar fashion. While the Falcons didn’t find the endzone again, they kicked three field goals, and scored on each of their first six offensive possessions. Every time the Falcons possessed the ball from the first play of the game through their field goal to begin the fourth quarter, they scored. What an amazing performance by the Falcons offense.
Half of the credit for preventing the Eagles scoring belongs to the Falcons. The other half belongs to ineptitude by the Eagles. They didn’t have any turnovers in the game, but they didn’t do well as far as time of possession. The biggest problem was that they were playing from behind from the very beginning of the game. That necessitated the Eagles going to the air to move the football, but it made them predictable for the Falcons defense. While the Eagles had big plays offensively, few of them came in crucial, key situations. Most of the big plays that the Falcons made defensively came in key situations. They may not have been interceptions or fumble recoveries, but they broke up passes or tackled the ball carrier for a loss exactly when they had to.
The Falcons didn’t have a great job scoring in the fourth quarter. They kicked the field goal as the first play of the final quarter, but other than that they punted. I’m sure upon looking at the game film this week, there will be other things to criticize and look at, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But this was a very well executed game by the Falcons on both sides of the ball. Matt Ryan’s performance highlights how good the Falcons were on the day: 22/29, 262 yards, three touchdowns, 0 interceptions. Good for a passer rating of 137.4. Great play by Ryan early allowed the Falcons to coast the rest of the game and not forced into taking any chances.
The only other note from the game: Sean Weatherspoon left the game in the fourth quarter with what looked like an ankle injury. I think he tweaked something, and wouldn’t be surprised to see him limited in practice this week. However, I think removing him from the game was a precautionary thing, and this injury isn’t one that will keep him out for a significant amount of time.