The Eagles’ afternoon began with a bang and ended with a dramatic fourth quarter, but they held on for a 24-15 win over the Falcons on Sunday.
With a six-point lead and a fourth down staring him down, Doug Pederson decided to try a field 46-yard field goal from Caleb Sturgis, which went straight through the uprights and put the game out of reach with 1:57 to go.
Pederson rebounded from a tough game against the Giants in a big way, and it started on the first drive of the game.
The Birds ran 12 plays, eight of which were runs, marched 81 yards, and ate up over seven minutes of clock. It ended with a short touchdown run by Ryan Mathews.
The drive wasn’t rushed, nor was it forced. The plays seemed to come to the offense with ease. It may have been Pederson’s best-called drive since the first drive of the season, which also ended in a touchdown.
From there, both teams struggled to find the end zone for quite some time, gaining yards and moving the sticks but coming up with field goals instead of touchdowns.
The Falcons ended that streak with a 76-yard bomb to a player I’d never heard of — amazingly, it wasn’t Julio Jones, although he finished with 10 catches for 135 yards — to take a two-point lead, which stood until Ryan Mathews pounded the ball in for eight more points, two-point conversion included.
The story of the fourth quarter, however, was another absolutely brutal display from NFL referees. We here at this blog do not like to blame things on referees. They have very hard jobs to do, which is why missing borderline calls shouldn’t be cause for public execution. But missing clear calls, which both affect the game and endanger player safety? That can’t happen.
A very clear defensive pass interference against Darren Sproles, followed two plays later by an even-clearer helmet-to-helmet hit against Jordan Matthews, cost the Eagles at least three points early in the final quarter of the game.
The Matthews play was particularly egregious, and we can talk about it more later, because it raises plenty of issues with the way the NFL operates.
But, in the end, the Eagles made the plays that mattered and came away with a crucial win to move to 5-4. The Birds are 4-0 at home this season, with four games left to go in Philadelphia.