On Sunday Night Football, the Eagles led the Falcons 31-21 entering the 4th quarter. But without Pro Bowl quarterback Michael Vick — left with a concussion — and a defense that had been worn down, Philadelphia was unable to stop the Falcons who came from behind to win a physical game.
Momentum can be the prevailing factor in all sports, especially professional football. However, momentum can also be fleeting and on Sunday night at the Georgia Dome on a night that saw Michael Vick knocked from the game, the wild swings of emotion and the big “Mo” went a long way towards leading the Falcons past the Eagles.
Michael Vick was wildly inconsistent in his first start against the Falcons, but until a third quarter fluke concussion knocked him from the game, it looked as if the Eagles were on their way to 2-0. In the end though, the Eagles defense was unable to fight off the late charge of Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and the Falcons in a 35-31 loss that dropped the Birds to .500.
“I thought the guys battled,” Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid said. “We just had too many turnovers, too many mistakes.”
Leading up to his injury, Vick struggled against the pressure coming from the edges courtesy of Atlanta DE’s John Abraham and Ray Edwards along with a strong blitz package that frustrated the Eagles signal caller all night long. Vick finished 19 of 28 for 242 yards, two touchdowns one interception and two fumbles. Vick left the game late in the third quarter with a concussion when he was driven into teammate Todd Herremans and his helmet collided with the right tackle’s helmet.
Initially diagnosed with a neck injury, it was later deemed to be a concussion that drove Vick from the game and he’ll be evaluated on Monday.
It is ironic that Vick’s injury took place in the pocket since the Eagles consciously were trying to get the quarterback to become more patient and build an offensive line that could keep him upright. Philadelphia was walking a tightrope with a patchwork offensive line in front of its franchise quarterback and at this point the timetable for Vick’s return is unknown.
If Vick is unable to go on Sunday in the Eagles home opener at Lincoln Financial Field against the Giants, it will be either Mike Kafka, who replaced him on Sunday night, or Vince Young who continues to recover from a hamstring strain.
Kafka drove the Eagles all the way to the Falcons 22-yard line on the team’s final drive of the game going 7-9 for 72 yards.
The second-year signal caller from Northwestern’s first NFL game started innocuously enough with a handoff to McCoy who plunged in for a two yard score, his second of the game late in the third quarter. McCoy finished with 95 yards on the ground.
However, the Eagles ability to stretch the field was eliminated with Kafka under center because of his lack of arm strength. On most of his passes, Kafka hit his checkdowns which lead to nominal gains over the middle of the field.
Jeremy Maclin was the Eagles offensive star, making 13 catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns. Though, Maclin did drop a catchable Kafka pass on fourth down on Philadelphia’s final drive.
Throughout most of Sunday’s game the Eagles pass rush from their front four was simply dominant recording four sacks and knocking Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan around over and over again. But in the fourth quarter Atlanta found the formula to orchestrate two long 80-yard scoring drives in the final 10 minutes to turn a 31-21 deficit to open the fourth quarter into a 35-31 win.
Falcons running back Michael Turner finished with 114 yards on 21 carries, but the daggers for the eagles game with 3:24 remaining when Turner plunged in for a three-yard score shortly after rumbling down the sidelines for a 61-yard gain. The Eagles linebackers simply did not have an answer for Turner, who was held in check for a majority of the game by the Eagles defensive line.
Matt Ryan fought off the Eagles pressure to throw for 195 yards and a career high four touchdowns. Ryan’s top target was future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez. The NFL’s all-time pass catching tight end had his way with the Eagles, hauling in seven catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns.
“It was a wild one, for sure, but we hung in there,” Ryan said. “I think everybody hung in there and kept making plays, kept battling. Credit the guys on both sides of the ball, we never gave up.”
Philadelphia drops to 1-1 with the loss and trail the Redskins by one game in the NFC East. Atlanta meanwhile moves to 1-1 and are tied with the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Bucs for the top spot of the NFC South.
Next Up, the Eagles open the home portion of their schedule on Sunday at 1pm against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field.
Filed under: 2011 NFL Season, 2011 Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles | Tagged: Andy Reid, Atlanta Falcons, Falcons vs. Eagles, John Abraham, Matt Lombardo, Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Michael Vick Concussion, Michael Vick Return to Atlanta, Mike Kafka, NFL, NFL Week 2, Philadelphia Eagles, Ray Edwards |