Eagles Crush Falcons 31-17 But Lose Jackson with Head Injury
Philadelphia made a statement with a 31-17 win over Atlanta today, led by the performance of quarterback Kevin Kolb. The signal caller was 23-of-29 for 326 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception. Kolb’s quarterback rating was 133.6. It wasn’t all positive for the Birds though, as DeSean Jackson left the game with a head injury in the second quarter and did not return.
The Eagles opened the game on a tear after the Falcons went three-and-out. DeSean Jackson took the Birds second play from scrimmage 31 yards to the house on an end around.
The Falcons then moved the ball before Matt Bryant put a field goal off the left-post, giving the Eagles good field position. Philadelphia used the run to set up the pass on the ensuing drive, with LeSean McCoy runs of 8 and 9 yards as well as a 5-yard first down run by Chad Hall. Kolb then found Jackson for a 34-yard strike on a post route, putting Philadelphia up 14-0.
Philadelphia forced a pair of three-and-outs, sandwiching a missed field goal by David Akers. On the Eagles next drive, a raucous Lincoln Financial Field was silenced by the injury of Jackson.
The 5’10 receiver was running over the middle, and a pass was thrown high forcing him to extend to try to make the catch. Dunta Robinson saw the vulnerable wideout and delivered a devastating helmet-to-helmet hit, which left both players motionless for nearly five minutes.
The Eagles took advantage of the 15-yard penalty on Robinson for hitting a defenseless receiver, with Kolb finding Jeremy Maclin for an 8-yard touchdown. Maclin laid out to make the catch in the front corner of the end zone, giving the Eagles a 21-0 lead.
It appeared the Eagles would sail into halftime with at least a three touchdown lead, as they took over on an Asante Samuel interception with 2:06 left in the half. Kolb had a pass tipped three times and picked off by William Moore though, and was then called for a horse collar trying to bring the safety down on the return.
Atlanta took over at the Eagles 31-yardline with 52 seconds left in the half, and moved the ball down to the 1 yardline after a pass interference call on Ellis Hobbs. Matt Ryan found Tony Gonzalez for a 1-yard touchdown, putting the Falcons on the board with 14 seconds left in the opening half.
The Eagles took a knee after the kickoff, taking a 21-7 lead into the locker room. After a three-and-out by Philadelphia to open the third quarter, Atlanta drove 65 yards on 14 plays, but settled for a field goal to cut the deficit to 21-10. Philadelphia answer was quick and concise. On the second play of the following drive, Kolb launched an 83-yard strike to Jeremy Maclin for a touchdown, putting the Birds on top by 18.
The Eagles defense forced another punt, and the offense was backed up to its own 5-yardline after a penalty on the return. Kolb fired a strike to Jason Avant for a 21-yard gain that set the Eagles in motion. Philadelphia moved the ball to the Atlanta 29 before settling for a 47-yard field goal attempt by Akers, which was no good.
Akers missed a third field goal, this time from 37 yards out, late in the fourth quarter, leaving the score at 28-10. On the next drive, the Falcons moved down the field smoothly and Matt Ryan found Tony Gonzalez for a 13-yard touchdown, cutting the Eagles lead to 28-17.
Philadelphia recovered the onside kick and drove into field goal range again, giving Akers a fourth attempt at the south end of Lincoln Financial Field. This time his 30-yard attempt was true, putting the Eagles on top 31-17. The Birds defense sealed the win with a sack of Matt Ryan by Trent Cole that forced a fumble, which was recovered by Darryl Tapp.
The win leaves the Eagles 4-2, atop the NFC East, tied with the Giants who are also 4-2 after a 28-20 win over the Lions. The 3-2 Redskins host the Colts tonight.
It was a much needed victory for Philadelphia, which now has to run the gauntlet with a foreboding schedule ahead. The Eagles visit the Titans and star running back Chris Johnson before the bye, then take on the Colts, Redskins, Giants, Bears and Texans – all .500 or better.