Justin Boylan

Justin Boylan...Game 12 Eagles beat the Falcons 34-7... 12-7-09

Sometimes it's nice to have a Sunday of stress free football. Close games are fun to watch, but the excitement and anticipation of a tight game can make you lose your mind along with most of your fingernails.

The last two week, the Eagles found themselves down in the fourth quarter; both times Donovan McNabb and the Eagles offense erased those deficits on the way to two come-from-behind victories. Exciting, I know. Still, it's nice to be able to kick back and watch your team cruise through a game every once and awhile (see weeks 1, 3, and 5. Games against Carolina, Kansas City, and Tampa Bay, the Eagles cruised. Week 6 against Oakland should have been another one of these games, but we all know how that one turned out). Against a banged-up Atlanta Falcons team, it's time to put my feet up.

If these two teams played this game healthy, I'm not sure who comes out on top. Last season they played each other in Philadelphia and the Eagles won, 27-14. Matt Ryan threw for 277 yards and completed two touchdown passes to Roddy White, but he also tossed two interceptions. Running back Michael Turner was held in check by the Eagles defense, 17 carries for 58 yards. It was another running back, Brian Westbrook, who ran wild that day. Westbrook ran the ball 22 times for 167 yards and scored two touchdowns (the second coming with under two minutes left after the Falcons cut the lead to 6). So this time around the Falcons were missing Ryan and Turner, while the Eagles were without Westbrook and DeSean Jackson (advantage, Eagles).

Starting in place of Matt Ryan was seven-year veteran Chris Redman. He had a long day ahead of him that started with a 3 and out. The Eagles started with a scoring drive and a Michael Vick appearance (his first play was a 3 yard run up the middle, but his role would actually be a factor this week. He was also greeted with boos by most of the fans on his first jog to the huddle). Akers kicked a 33-yard field goal. On the ensuing kickoff the Falcons fumbled, giving the Eagles a chance to establish some distance on the scoreboard early. The Eagles only had to go 22 yards for a touchdown, but found themselves in a 3 rd and 13, McNabb completed a deep pass to Reggie Brown for the first down (I know what you're thinking, me too. Reggie Brown is still on this team?!). On the next play McNabb hit Leonard Weaver for the 4-yard touchdown. (As much as it kills me to admit this, my fantasy football season is over. A few weeks ago I joked about picking up Leonard Weaver for fantasy; the joke is getting less and less funny. I needed a win this week to secure the final playoff spot, but came up short. Weaver's 15 fantasy points were better than any of my starting running backs, and his performance would have pushed me into the postseason. Better luck next year, right? Well, for now I'm stuck in the consolation bracket, how pathetic.) 10-0 Eagles after one.

Things didn't get easier for Redman in the second quarter. During Atlanta's first three possessions Redman went 1 for 6 passing and the team punted each time. The Eagles were looking to extend their lead to 17, when McNabb hooked up with Jason Avant for a 15-yard touchdown, however offsetting penalties nullified the play and the Eagles had to settle for another field goal. On his last chance of the half, Redman put together his first decent drive of the afternoon. Helped by two penalties, a roughing the passer call and unnecessary roughness in the end zone, the Falcons had 2 nd and goal from the 1-yard line.

(I watched that unnecessary roughness play five or six times, I beg to differ. The receiver went up for the ball and even got his hands on it. The ref called him a “defenseless receiver,” it looked like he was doing his job trying to make a play, I call that football. Sean Jones did his job too, made sure that catch wouldn't be made in his territory. The helmets did hit, but it really looked like Jones went in with the shoulder. Maybe, if it was an uncatchable pass, then the hit is unnecessary, but the receiver had the ball on his fingertips. Blow to the head my …)

It's here where the Eagles defense made the stand of the game. The Falcons had three chances to punch it in and could not. They tried running it with Jason Snelling up the middle, but the Eagles defense pushed the line of scrimmage backwards and kept the shutout going into the second half.

The Eagles first drive of the second half went 80 yards and ended in a touchdown. McNabb was 6 for 7 passing the ball on that drive, completing passes to Avant, Jeremy Maclin, and Brent Celek. The drive also featured two short yardage situations. The first was a 4 th and 1 converted by running back Eldra Buckley. The second was a 3 rd and 1 from the Atlanta 5-yard line, and Vick returned to action to put 6 on the scoreboard.

By now a lot of the Vick fans at the game were being heard cheering. If I was Falcons fan I would have found a way to get a ticket and sneak in a microphone and speakers so Vick could hear me boo personally. The city loved Vick, they made him their franchise quarterback, and then he lied. He gutted a franchise. He let down a lot of people, a lot of fans. I don't think I would ever get over a beloved player doing what Vick did. His return received a mixed response, but there are plenty of people in Atlanta who still support Michael Vick and proudly show off their black and red #7 jerseys. As an Eagles fan (much easier), that's exactly what I've been waiting for from Vick. The Eagles struggle on 3 rd or 4 th and short, Vick has the speed, quickness, and vision to convert those situations. I hope there's more where this came from.

The Falcons attempted to answer, but Chris Redman was just completely overmatched. Four plays after converting a 4 th and 2 to tight end Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons were faced with another 4 th down just outside of the red zone. Sheldon Brown picked off Redman's pass and returned it 83 yards for the touchdown. (Like I said, Redman was overmatched. The Eagles knew by Monday that Matt Ryan wasn't going to make the start; they had all week to prepare to face the backup. As it turns out, he's a back up for a reason.) Add the extra point, and that's 27 unanswered brought to you by the Philadelphia Eagles.

The fourth quarter included two junk time touchdowns. Vick got a couple snaps early in place of McNabb. He made them count, scrambling for 5 yards and completing a touchdown pass to Celek (attention NFL, the Eagles will listen to trade offers for one Michael Vick after the season. He's starting to look good, right?). The Falcons finally found the end zone on the last play of the game, Redman to White. The final score: 34-7 Birds (Eagles not Falcons).

The Eagles did exactly what they were supposed to do in this situation, win. The defense played great, completely shutting down Atlanta's offense. Redman was intercepted twice, and both were turned into 7 points. Both the Eagles offensive and defensive lines dominated the game, controlling the action at the line of scrimmage. LeSean McCoy had a rough day, he had just six carries for two yards, and caught three passes for 24 yards. Weaver picked up some of the slack with 100 total yards and a touchdown, but there wasn't much slack to pick up as the Eagles cruised from start to finish.

Late night text from my Dad read, “What a great day of football. Birds look great. Cowboys, Pittsburgh, and New England all went down. Love it!”

All are good things. The Eagles are now tied with Dallas for the top spot in the NFC East, but with the Giants win; next week becomes a HUGE game. The Giants lost to the Eagles in week 8 and if they beat them in the Meadowlands Sunday night they are tied at 8-5, a must-win for New York. The Eagles, on the other hand, can extend their winning streak with a win and be sitting at 9-4, but it's not a must-win. (Oh, who am I kidding?)





Justin Boylan



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