The Falcons had an opportunity for a win on the road against a tough Philadelphia Eagles defense, and it didn’t happen.
The Eagles dominated time of possession and should have won this game by a significant margin. Instead, Philadelphia pulled off a 21-15 victory at home.
The Falcons had a hard time getting anything going in the first half on either side of the ball. Atlanta’s high-powered offense was stagnant, and the defense was soft, allowing every Eagles player with the last name Matthews to destroy them.
Wide receiver Jordan Matthews and running back Ryan Matthews combined for 60 yards on one drive, which culminated in Ryan Matthews rushing four yards for a touchdown to give the Eagles a 7-0 advantage while the Falcons were scoreless heading into the second quarter.
The Falcons’ defense was able to do just enough to keep the Eagles from scoring in the second quarter, and while Atlanta’s offense didn’t look exactly like its usual explosive self, they were able to add two Matt Bryant field goals to narrow the Eagles’ lead to 7-6 heading into the half.
Ryan and the offense did start to get into a rhythm. He hit Julio for gains of 29 and 20 yards, respectively, and Devonta Freeman was able to break off a couple of runs for decent gains.
Defensively, Vic Beasley added another strip sack to his resume, and the recovery by Brian Poole gave the Falcons the ball on the Eagles’ 42-yard line. Matt Bryant missed the field goal attempt, but it was still a solid play by Beasley.
It was not a strong start for Atlanta’s defense after the half. On Philadelphia’s first possession, the Falcons’ defense allowed an 81-yard drive, but at least kept the Eagles out of the end zone, forcing them to settle for a field goal.
The Falcons added a field goal, also, and the score heading into the fourth quarter was 10-9 Eagles.
This is where things really got wild.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles connected on a field goal, giving them a 13-9 lead. Then Matt Ryan hit Taylor Gabriel for an incredible 76-yard touchdown, giving the Falcons a 15-13 lead. Matt Bryant missed the PAT, which was the first he has missed in many, many years.
On the ensuing kick, Kenyon Barner returned it 52 yards, giving the Eagles the ball on Atlanta’s 45-yard line. Philadelphia got into field goal range, but the kicker missed it, allowing the Falcons to preserve a lead.
After a Falcons three-and-out, the Eagles executed a drive that got Ryan Matthews into the end zone to establish a 15-19 lead. Philadelphia was initially unsuccessful on its two-point attempt, but a dumb holding penalty against Paul Worrilow gave them another shot with more favorable field position, and they converted, extending the lead to 15-21.
The Falcons had another opportunity, but couldn’t make it happen. A penalty against Joshua Perkins brought back a first down fun by Devonta Freeman, and a pass to Julio Jones on fourth down fell incomplete.
The Eagles got the ball back, but got stymied on third down. Doug Pederson initially decided to go for it despite being in field goal range, then called a time out instead and went for the field goal. Caleb Sturgis nailed this one, giving the Eagles a 24-15 lead and the win.
The Falcons got the ball back with under two minutes left, then Ryan passed the ball directly to struggling Leodis McKelvin. Game over.