Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Falcons Week 1 Recap vs Eagles

ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 14: Head coach Dan Quinn of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates beating the Philadelphia Eagles at the Georgia Dome on September 14, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The season is officially underway and the Atlanta Falcons are UNDEFEATED. The Falcons held the lead for most of a highly anticipated game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Ultimately, Atlanta came away with the win against a relentless Eagles squad. Taking advantage of a few of the Falcons’ mistakes, the Eagles fought back from a 17-point halftime deficit, but could not put together enough of a comeback to knock the Falcons. Let’s take a look at a quarter-by-quarter analysis:

1st Quarter:

The Falcons defense took the field first in the season opener and began their test against Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense. The defense exemplified Dan Quinn’s motto of “fast and physical” held the Eagles to a 3 and out on the opening drive. They went on to force three more punts throughout the quarter and barely allowing the Philly offense to cross the 50 yard line. The defense was on fire!

Kirk Alonzo stunning INT to end a Falcons drive

The offense came out firing as well. However they could not capitalize on opportunities in the 1st qtr. The opening drive stalled after 12 rushing yards by Tevin Coleman and 42 passing yards by Matt Ryan (2/3 passing with 17 yards to Julio and 25 yards to White). And the Falcons were forced to settle for a field goal ($). On the next Falcons drive, the ball was pushed all the way up the field and into the redzone. Then Kiko Alonso happened. The LB made a one handed interception in the endzone leaving the Falcons, yet again, with a missed opportunity. A 3 and out would be the final full drive of the quarter for the Falcons.
Falcons 3, Eagles 0

2nd Quarter:

Julio Jones first touchdown of the evening

The Falcons began the second quarter with the ball and thus began the Quintorris Lopes Julio Jones show. Julio racked up 31 receiving yards in the last minute of the 1st qtr. and finished the drive off by punching it in from 4 yards out for his first score of the season. And yes, I yelled “Juliooooo” from my seat. The Eagles responded with an 11 play, 69 yard drive that resulted in a field goal. The Falcons and Eagles traded 3 and outs followed by a Falcons drive that stalled due to penalties and produced yet another field goal ($). The Eagles received the ball with 1:05 left on the clock before the half. The next set of plays had me on the edge of my seat. 

Julio Jones second touchdown

On the first play of the Eagles’ drive, Grady Jarrett successfully put pressure on Sam Bradford forcing him to throw a pass into coverage. Willy Mo intercepted the pass and the Falcons took over on the Eagles 27 yard line. On the VERY NEXT PLAY, Matt Ryan was sacked by Fletcher Cox and fumbled the ball. The ball was recovered by the Eagles on their 33 yard line, however there was some yellow laundry on the field that wiped out the whole play; Kiko Alonso was called for Illegal Contact giving the ball back to the Falcons on the Eagle’s 22 yard line. Julio then proceeded to be Julio reeling in a 22 yard TD pass from Matt Ryan. Mr. Jones ended the half with 8 receptions for 97 yards and 2 TDs.
Falcons 20, Eagles 3

3rd Quarter:

Ryan's second and momentum changing Interception

Up 20-3 I was extremely excited for what the Falcons would come out and do with a possible shlacking on the table. However they digressed to a much more Mike Smith-like team committing offensive errors and allowing the Eagles to dig their way back from a 17 point deficit (sound familiar?). Facing 3rd and 14 on the opening drive of the half, Matt Ryan dropped back and threw his second interception of the game to former Seahawk Walter Thurmond. This set up the Eagles in excellent field position with which they would capitalize off of an 8 yard DeMarco Murray run, making the score 20-10.

No worries right? Wrong.

Another offensive penalty against the Falcons forced Atlanta to punt. Matt Bosher booted a 62 yard punt that placed the Eagles on their own 5 yard line. The Eagles would have to drive 95 yards against a defense that, previously, they could not move the ball against in order to make this a game.

Demarco Murray trimming the lead to 20-17.

Logic says no, but momentum said yes.

The Eagles completed a 13 play, 95 yard scoring drive including a 27 yard run by Darren Sproles to close the gap to 20-17. Falcons STILL on top. The Falcons handled the ball for the remainder of the 3rd qtr. Tevin Coleman put up a grown man’s drive rushing for 42 yards with 16 of those yards being called back on a holding penalty. The drive went on into the 4th qtr. and the Falcons eventually settled for yet another field goal ($).
Falcons 20, Eagles 17

4th Quarter

Eagles go ahead touchdown in the 4th quarter

After the aforementioned field goal, the Falcons lead was pushed to 23-17. The Eagles received the ball with nearly 11 minutes left on the clock. Sam Bradford gave the Falcons D a hefty dose of Darren Sproles, Zach Ertz, and Jordan Matthews while finding his groove in the no huddle offense by pushing the team down the field in a little over 2 minutes. Eagles score.

Julio Jones critical catch on go-ahead drive for Atlanta

Its 24-23 with 8 minutes on the clock and the ball is given to Matty Ice and Matt Money Bryant with more than enough time to continue their stellar streak of 4th qtr. game winning drives. Matty Ice wasted no time finding Julio Jones for a 44 yard pass down the sideline. The drive stalled at the Atlanta 29 yard line and Matt Money Bryant easily converted the field goal ($). Falcons up 26-23.

Cody Parkey missed FG attempt

At this point, the Eagles seemed to find a groove against the Falcons defense by swiftly moving the ball down the field with, what seemed like, little effort. On their next drive, the Eagles moved the ball on an 11 play, 54 yard drive that was ended by a Paul Worrilow run stuff on 3rd and 1 on the Atlanta 26 yard line. The stage was set for the Eagles kicker Cody Parker to do his own Matt Money Bryant impersonation and put the Eagles ahead with 2:32 seconds left. The ball was snapped, the kick was up, and it beautifully drifted wide right. NO GOOD!

The Falcons received the ball on their 26 yard line and proceeded to eat as much clock as possible. However, 3 plays and 37 seconds later the Eagles would be set to receive the ball again. Matt Bosher booted another punt all the way down to the Eagles 10 yard line.

Now the fate of our first 2015 game rested solely on the shoulders of the defense.

On first down, Bradford hit Sproles for a 2 yard gain that was stopped by safety William Moore. On second down, Bradford again tried to go to his pacifier in Sproles, but the pass came up incomplete.

Ricardo Allen's game clinching interception

Then it happened: on 3rd and 8, Bradford threw a pass over the middle to wide receiver Jordan Matthews. The ball went through his hands, smacked him in the face and popped in the air. In what seemed like an eternity, free safety Ricardo Allen placed himself between the ball and the ground and came away with the game clinching interception. Matt Ryan and the offense entered the victory formation and inked a 1-0 record onto the stat sheet.

FINAL: Falcons 26, Eagles 24

Record: (1-0)

Game MVP: Tough call not to choose Julio Jones with 141 yards and 2 TDs but I’m giving this one to Ricardo Allen. His journey from the practice squad to starting free safety was highlighted by the game clinching interception to go along with 7 tackles on the day.

Things to work on: PENALTIES. Offensive penalties in particular caused a few Falcons drives to stall and often settle for field goals.

Up Next?: The Atlanta Falcons head to New York to face the Giants who are coming off of a last minute loss to the Dallas Cowboys and are still without star players DE Jason Pierre-Paul and WR Victor Cruz

Until next time, Falcons fans.... RISE UP!!!!!

Follow Alphonso Thomas on Twitter: @_fortheloveofaj

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