Eagles

Philly Philly: Eagles vs. Falcons Week 1 observations and reaction

Brian Garfinkel | Philadelphia Eagles

They did it again.

The Philadelphia Eagles offense had been struggling, Julio Jones outgained them by himself in the first half, but Doug Pederson went back to the well, dusting off the Philly Special.

Or was it? Not so fast said Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson on WIP.

“It was the same play that the Patriots used — the one that Tom dropped.”

Another troll job of the New England Patriots, even better!

“Philly Philly,” as the play is called, was utilized midway through the third quarter on a 3rd-and-5 when Nelson Agholor flipped a beautiful pass on the move to Nick Foles for a gain of 15 yards, their longest play to that point. It jump-started the offense and helped vault the Eagles to an 18-12 victory along with a late goal-line stand in the NFL season opener on Thursday night.

Trey Burton, who tossed the touchdown to Foles on the fourth-down play in the Super Bowl, took to Twitter to compliment Agholor on his throw.

Here’s Doug on the play.

The game itself played out exactly like the Divisional Round Game in January. The Falcons marched up and down the field in the first half, but settled for field goals as Steve Sarkisian’s offense continues to struggle woefully in the red zone. Once the trick play happened, the Eagles began to churn out major yardage on the ground and took an 18-12 lead on Jay Ajayi’s second score of the night, an 11-yard sprint off the left side.

When the Falcons needed a touchdown at the end, Sarkisian called a similar play to the fourth-down call he made in January. The one that Jones slipped on, the one that fell incomplete and the one that Jalen Mills knew what was coming. Well, Jones didn’t slip this time and it was the same result for Atlanta.

INCOMPLETE!

And that play came after it was rewarded with an extra down after drawing an illegal contact penalty with one second on the clock. Pederson stated that he learned a lot about the team.

“The biggest thing, again, [there was] just no panic on the sideline. Resiliency, toughness, hanging with each other through all the ups and downs, the ebb and flow of the game, the mistakes, the penalties, turnover. Just the guys hanging together. Again, there was no panic tonight. I’ll tell you, the deciding factor in this football game, to me, was our defensive line and then our offensive line, how they controlled that line of scrimmage. That was a big part of this football game tonight.”

Jay Ajayi and the offensive line’s emergence in the second half was instrumental. Ajayi carried the ball just three times for 11 yards in the first half, but gained 49 on 12 totes in the second and scored a pair of touchdowns. The offensive line generated consistent push up the middle.

Nick Foles was 19-of-34 for just 117 yards, but with Alshon Jeffery out and a strong secondary led by a fine pair of cornerback in Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, Eagles receivers were struggling to create separation. Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert were disappointing. Ertz had a couple drops and this bobbling reception from Goedert led to a Deion Jones interception and a Tevin Coleman 9-yard touchdown, which staked Atlanta to a 12-10 margin.

Eagles’ touchdown march came two drives later. Darren Sproles had this key reception on third down in the right flat to move the sticks as he fought for the first.

Clement added a 21-yard burst up the middle before Ajayi found paydirt two plays later.

On Atlanta’s final drive, Ryan hit Jones for a gain of 18 on a 3rd-and-17 and flipped a 10-yard completion to Mohamed Sanu on the ensuing 3rd-and-8. But then that vaunted Eagles defense stiffened up.

One touchdown in five red-zone trips, Pederson was extremely pleased of his defense.

“Again, it’s probably the game, the deciding factor. Defense, again, they got down there and bowed their neck and made several big stops for us. That’s what it takes, I think, early in the season like this until your offense really kind of gets on track and gets going a little bit. I know we got the run game going in the second half, we did hit some passes in the second half, but I think that’s what you need too — that’s why it’s a great team sport. You need all three phases. Defense played extremely well tonight. It was unfortunate, too, we could have had a couple turnovers, a couple interceptions there, but red zone defense was outstanding.”

Same result as January, and one that eventually led to this being raised on Thursday night.

The road to Atlanta has begun.

 


You can follow Adrian Fedkiw on Twitter (@AdrianFedkiw) and e-mail him at amfedkiw@yahoo.com. Subscribe to The Bitter Birds on YouTube here.

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