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September 07, 2018

You can't stop Julio Jones, but Eagles finally seem able to contain him

Eagles NFL
0906_Julio_Jones_USAT Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports

Julio Jones has owned Eagles cornerbacks.

The Falcons came into Thursday night's game thinking the Eagles didn't have a defensive back who could stop Julio Jones.

Well in a 18-12 win to start the 2018 season, Ronald Darby did as good a job as any Eagles cornerback ever has. And Jones still burned the Eagles for his most yards ever against them, one of his 10 most productive receiving games ever.

Jones made an immediate impact out of the tunnel, with an end-around run for 11 yards, a 10-yard reception and a big 33-yard catch to set up the Falcons at the goal line. Luckily, a Philly defensive stand held them to a turnover on downs (we've seen that one before).

Quiet for much of the first half after that, an incredible juggling catch on a Matt Ryan heave could have been a highlight reel play for Jones, but was ruled incomplete and upheld after a review.

In the second half there was less coverage from Jalen Mills (who got destroyed in the aforementioned play) and more coverage from Darby, who on several key plays kept Jones in check — well, as much as one can. Jones was targeted by Ryan 19 times and hauled in catches just 10 times.

His eighth catch went for 36 yards and ninth for 22, setting up yet another dramatic defensive stand for the Birds 'D' inside the two-minute mark (he would add a tenth as the clock ticked down).

Ironically — because it had to end this way — Jones ran out of space in the end zone as time expired on a last second throw to assure an Eagles win.

Heading into Thursday's game, Jones had 549 yards and three touchdowns on 35 receptions in five career games (including the playoffs) against the Eagles to which he added 169. And one of those games, the second of his career, he had just two catches for 29 yards.

Here's a look at his history against Philly:

Date  CatchesYards  TD
 9/18/2011229 0
 10/28/20125123 1
9/14/20159141 2
 11/13/201610135 0
1/13/2018 91210*
9/6/2018 101690


The asterisk, of course, was for the potential game-winning touchdown pass that slipped through Jones' hands in the end zone during the divisional playoff round this past winter — and perhaps another asterisk needs to be added for Thursday night's win, when Jones was again targeted on the final play with a chance to win, only this time he landed out of bounds.

In the six games, Philly is 3-3 — with all three coming during the Doug Pederson era (including the 15-10 win last January).

So sure, Jones can beef up his fantasy stats against the Eagles. It doesn't matter if he collects 300 yards receiving, Philly will always feel like they have the upper-hand on one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Most importantly, the Birds were able to keep Jones out fo the end zone for the third straight game. 

Also, they shouldn't trade Ronald Darby.


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