The Philadelphia Eagles did not get off to a pretty start against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night. That's putting it lightly. Expectations were high heading into this game, and the Eagles came out flat. The Birds in midnight green went three-and-out on their first two offensive drives. On defense, the Eagles failed to get much of a pass rush and gave up too many plays in coverage. Big free agent signing cornerback Byron Maxwell was among those getting beat regularly.
Things looked like they might turn around a little after the Falcons drove into the red zone and Kiko Alonso made an incredible diving one-handed interception on Matt Ryan. But then the Eagles offense failed to do much on offense and the Falcons scored a touchdown. The Eagles managed to get into scoring position for the first time all night midway through the second quarter. A few errant passes from Sam Bradford forced the Eagles to kick the field goal.
Atlanta continued to roll on offense while Philadelphia wasn't able to do anything. The Falcons kicked a field goal to earn a 10 point lead with under two minutes in the first half. The Eagles got the ball back and then ... disaster struck. Bradford threw a bad pick right to an Atlanta defender. Fletcher Cox stripped Ryan on the next play to give the Eagles the ball back, but then the turnover was wiped out due to a holding call on Alonso. Next play, Jones beats Maxwell over the top for a touchdown. Nightmare.
The second half got off to a better start. Thurmond read Ryan all the way and picked off Ryan to put the Eagles in scoring position. DeMarco Murray took a handoff from Bradford in the shotgun and turned the corner untouched for an 8-yard score. Jason Kelce made a great block on the play.
The Eagles forced a stop and got the ball back again pinned deep in their own territory. Despite multiple penalties on the Eagles, Philadelphia found a way to move the ball 95 yards down the field on 13 plays for a short Murray receiving touchdown. And just like that, the Eagles were right back in it.
Or not. Facing third-and-15 pinned back in their territory, the Falcons called a shotgun draw and Freeman rushed for the first down. Atlanta used that play to springboard a scoring drive of their own by moving into field goal range. Luckily for the Eagles, Connor Barwin's helmet broke up a Ryan pass on third down.
For the first time in the entire game, the Eagles took the lead in the fourth quarter thanks to a quick-scoring touchdown drive. The Eagles marched down the field without much difficulty and capped off the drive with a short rushing touchdown by Ryan Mathews.
The Eagles didn't keep the lead for long. Maxwell got burnt by Jones again to set the Falcons up in field goal range. Mychal Kendricks made a key open field tackle while trailing on third down to force the kick.
Philadelphia gets the ball back and moves into field goal range. Atlanta's defense just couldn't handle the Eagles offense. That's why it was confusing when the Eagles opted to kick a field goal on 4th-and-short instead of going for it. As if it wasn't already a bad decision, Cody Parkey's kick missed. Bad decision and bad execution.
The Eagles got the ball back thanks to Jenkins forcing a run stop in the backfield on third down. With one timeout left, down two points, and 1:49 on the clock, the Eagles needed a score. They wouldn't get it. Bradford's pass intended for Matthews over the middle went off his hands and into the arms of Falcons safety Ricardo Allen. Game.
The Eagles are now 0-1 on the 2015 NFL season.
Stay tuned for much more Eagles-Falcons post-game coverage.