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September 14, 2015

Instant observations: Falcons 26, Eagles 24

Eagles NFL

Playing in front of a bunch of their own fans at the Georgia Dome, the Eagles came out and played as bad of a first half as realistically possible.  They dug a gigantic hole for themselves, trailing 20-3 after 30 minutes of play. 

Just like in Week 1 last year, they completely dug out of that hole to take the lead. Unlike last year, they couldn’t finish the comeback and Atlanta escaped by a score of 26-24. Here’s what we saw:

The Good

     • Biggest play of the game for the Eagles? Well, we could go with Kiko Alonso doing a pretty good Odell Beckham Jr. impression:

     • On second thought, let’s go with Walter Thurmond intercepting Matt Ryan deep in Atlanta territory on the first drive of the second half. The Eagles scored on a DeMarco Murray run shortly after.

     • Incredible drive in the third quarter by Sam Bradford and the offense, overcoming a bunch of penalties and Jason Peters leaving the field for a few plays:

     • After the 13-play drive that lasted over six minutes, Bradford and co. marched right down the field in six plays. Atlanta’s defense visibly started to tire at this point.

     • Huge play by Malcolm Jenkins and the Eagles’ run defense on Atlanta’s last possession. Absolutely critical.

The Bad

     • The Falcons ran a lot of play-action, and Matt Ryan generally had a ton of time to throw. He made good use of it, throwing for 298 yards

     • Walter Thurmond had Julio Jones lined up perfectly on a wide receiver screen, but he whiffed on the tackle. Jones ended up scooting into the end zone from about seven yards out to make the score 10-0 Falcons.

     • Just when the Eagles thought they were getting the ball back down 13-3 after Fletcher Cox came up with a huge fumble recovery, Alonso was called for illegal contact on the play. The call looked kind of iffy, and Ryan hit Jones for a dagger touchdown shortly after.

     • Jenkins was in position to make two critical interceptions, but he dropped the ball both times. Those are killers, because the Eagles surrendered points and field position in those spots. 

     • Jordan Matthews played an excellent game, but his drop led to Ricardo Allen’s game-winning interception.

The Ugly

     • Where to start? The Eagles offense was dreadful in the first quarter, managing only 35 total yards. Sam Bradford and the receivers looked out of sync, but the team’s most obvious problem was poor run blocking. The Birds “managed” -9 rushing yards in the game’s first 15 minutes.

     • 27 passes to only seven runs for the Eagles in the first half. Even if the Falcons were loading up in the box, that is not how this offense is supposed to work.

     • Whether it was Byron Maxwell on the coverage or someone else, the Eagles had no answer for Julio Jones. The Falcons’ star receiver finished with 141 yards.

     • Really bad decision by Bradford on the interception to William Moore in the second quarter, but Jason Peters and Allen Barbre completely whiffed on the stunt that the Falcons ran. Peters also got beat by Vic Beasley later in the quarter.

     • 3rd and long bit the Eagles again. Pretty inexcusable for Tevin Coleman to easily pick up 3rd and 15 running a draw play out of his own end zone.

     • Chip Kelly is going to be asked a lot of questions about Cody Parkey this week. And about his own decision-making on 4th down.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann