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November 13, 2016

First half observations: Eagles 7, Falcons 6

After racing out to a 3-0 start to the season, the Eagles found themselves at .500 heading into Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons. Even worse, they were 0-3 in the NFC East:

The Falcons came into the game at 6-3 overall and 4-1 on the road, and as expected, the Eagles appear to be in for a fight. After an up-and-down half, they go into the locker room with a 7-6 lead.

The good

• The Eagles' opening drive was the best that unit has perhaps looked all season, going 12 plays for 81 yards and a four-yard Ryan Mathews touchdown run. Carson Wentz (4-4, 47 yards) had open receivers and he was right on the money, three running backs (Mathews, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood) touched the ball, and the offensive line allowed Doug Pederson to comfortably call any play he pleased:

• The defense played a very good half, limiting the highest-scoring team in the league (33.9 ppg) to only 133 yards and six points. Even when Atlanta was able to get points, it generally came because of a great play that is hard for anybody to defend. This beautiful 29-yard throw from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones is the best example of that:

Jim Schwartz's crew has come to play so far, limiting the mistakes and tackling well.

• The biggest play for the defense was a six-yard sack by Connor Barwin that thwarted a Falcons drive deep in Eagles territory.

• In general, I thought Wentz looked sharp and he was pushing the ball down the field. He couldn't get the offense on track after the first drive, but the rookie finished 11-16 for 134 yards.

• This DeMarco Murray highlight was shown on the scoreboard and the fans booed loudly. I'm not sure if  that should be considered "good," but I got a nice chuckle out of it:

The bad

• Having a great season, Caleb Sturgis left three points on the board when he pushed a 44-yard field goal wide. I don't believe that momentum exists, but it would have been nice if the Eagles got points on a drive when they moved the ball well down the field.

• Wentz had a couple of rookie mistakes: 1. He took a bad sack with all day to throw (or get rid of the ball). 2. He wasn't able to fall on a fumble that was originally Big V's fault, the Eagles' only turnover of the half. Otherwise, the No. 2-overall pick looked sharp.

• Zach Ertz had two of the three Eagles false start penalties.

• Nolan Carroll was being evaluated for a head injury after tackling Julio Jones late in the second quarter. That would be a major blow to the Eagles secondary if he were unable to continue.

The ugly

• My flashbacks to 2006:

The good news is that Matt Bryant missed the first field goal of his career playing against the Eagles late in the half, a 53-yard attempt.

• Jordan Matthews probably cost the Eagles a chance at a field goal with a brutal drop late in the first half. It seems like you can't go one week without one of those.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann