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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Kevin Kolb was highly efficient in throwing for 326 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, and the Philadelphia Eagles trounced the visiting Atlanta Falcons, 31-17.
Kolb, who has been mired in a much-publicized quarterback controversy with the injured Michael Vick, completed 23-of-29 passes and was picked off once for the Eagles (4-2), who have won four of their last five games and notched their first home victory in three tries.
Vick (ribs) has missed the last two games after being knocked out of a Week 4 matchup with the Redskins, and Kolb has filled in admirably by winning his past two starts.
“One thing that I really saw (while Vick started) was the way Mike plays the game,” Kolb said. “He’s out there just playing the game. Sometimes, as a quarterback, you want to execute things so efficiently…that you forget to just play the game. I’ve been doing that for a lot of years now, and I don’t worry about the execution things and who to get the ball to.”
The main target of the game was Jeremy Maclin, who caught seven balls for a career-best 159 yards and two touchdowns, including one that went for 83 yards. DeSean Jackson added a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown before being knocked out of the game with a head injury early in the second quarter on a scary hit from Atlanta’s Dunta Robinson, who also left the game.
Matt Ryan was largely ineffective in his second homecoming for Atlanta (4-2), connecting on just 23-of-42 throws for 250 yards with two touchdowns to Tony Gonzalez and an interception. The Philadelphia-area native fell to 0-2 in his career at Lincoln Financial Field.
“Obviously, today was a tough afternoon for our football team in all three phases,” said Falcons head coach Mike Smith. “We gave up way too many explosive plays. We’ve got a whole lot of work to do, obviously, as a football team. It was a very tough day for the Falcons.”
The Eagles came out firing on all cylinders to build a big lead.
Atlanta went three-and-out on the game’s first series, and Philadelphia gained possession at its own 47. After Kolb hit Maclin on a 22-yard pass play, Jackson got an end around to the left and sprinted his way past the defense before just getting over the goal line for a 31-yard touchdown three minutes into the game.
The Falcons looked to cut into their deficit, as a 42-yard completion from Ryan to Jenkins put them in field goal range. Matt Bryant’s 41-yard attempt, however, banged off the left upright and fell to the field.
Kolb made Atlanta pay for its mistake, driving the Eagles downfield 69 yards in just six plays. Jackson finished off the possession by catching a perfect pass over the middle in the end zone from 34 yards out for a 14-0 lead with 6:50 still left in the opening quarter.
The Falcons’ offense gained just one first down combined on their next three drives — on an Eagles’ defensive penalty — and Philadelphia extended its lead to 21 points midway through the second after a 44-yard punt return by Jorrick Calvin gave the hosts good field position.
The return put the Eagles at the Falcons’ 34, and Kolb directed a seven-play drive that ended when Maclin made a diving touchdown grab just over the goal line near the right pylon from eight yards away.
Philadelphia was driving late in the first half until a tipped pass resulted in an interception. Kolb was whistled for a horse-collar tackle, which gave the Falcons the ball on the Eagles’ 31 with just under a minute left. After a pass interference call in the end zone, Ryan hit Gonzalez on a one-yard scoring pass with 14 seconds left for a 14-point game.
Bryant drilled a 26-yard field goal with seven minutes left in the third to cut Atlanta’s deficit to 10, but the Eagles had an immediate answer, as Kolb found Maclin streaking down the left sideline wide open for an 83-yard touchdown toss less than a minute later.
Ryan’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Gonzalez with 5:40 left in the game brought the Falcons to within 11, but Atlanta didn’t get the onside kick, and David Akers’ 30-yard field goal gave Philadelphia a 31-17 lead with three minutes to play.
Akers went 1-for-4 on field goal attempts, giving him three missed three field goals in the game for the first time in his career…The Eagles, who played without starting left tackle Jason Peters, allowed only one sack while recording three — two from Trent Cole…Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy had 64 yards rushing on 21 carries and added four catches for 21 yards…Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel had an interception, giving him 31 since 2006, the most in the NFL during that time…The Eagles have won six of the last seven meetings between the teams.
David Akers finally got his range back to kick a 31 yard field goal to give the Eagles the 14 point lead. The Falcons will now fall to 4-2 and the Eagles will rise to 4-2 at the conclusion of the game.
Tony Gonzalez was a must-start in our fantasy column this week and he has come through in that department, albeit in garbage time.
Gonzalez has only three catches for 19 yards but two touchdowns.
Not good news everyone, Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton went down with an injury but walked off by his own power. For a game that just hasn’t gone the Falcons way this is just salt poured onto the wounds.
It’s a long season and we’ll need our star in the middle.
Amazing how when you are behind things in the passing game start to open up. Tony Gonzalez scored a touchdown to make things look a little bit more respectable, but Falcons fans know full well that the offense has been completely mediocre for three games in a row now.
The game has entered a lull as we head into the second half of the fourth quarter. The Eagles have scored whenever they wanted and if not for three missed field goals by David Akers the margin could be a lot worse.
It remains 28-10 but the Falcons have not shown any offensive punch that would lead us to believe they could complete the comeback. On a positive note, Michael Jenkins needs only six yards to notch a career-high in receiving yards. He has four catches for 78 yards in his first game back.
Brandon Graham of the Philadelphia Eagles went down with an injury on Sunday. He left under his own power.
Kevin Kolb has been near-perfect today in Philadelphia. He is 20-for-26 for 292 yards and three touchdowns. His lone interception was a tipped pass.
Further adding to the quarterback controversy is his impressive vertical passing game. Kolb is 5-for-5 for 221 yards and two touchdowns.
While all indications are Michael Vick will regain the starting job when he’s healthy, a performance like this has to make Andy Reid question his decision a little.
At first it looked like this was going to be DeSean Jackson’s day after he started the first quarter with 78 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson’s day, however, was cut short with a head injury opening the door for Jeremy Maclin to light the Falcons’ secondary on fire.
He has six catches for 152 yards – a new career-high – and two touchdowns including an 83-yarder that saw him outrun the coverage.
It might have been a good idea to have him in your lineup today.
Atlanta now stands next to no chance in this game, chalk up the lose on this one, it just isn’t Atlanta’s day.
The Falcons are making a statement about their resilience today in Philadelphia. But that means nothing if you can’t get touchdowns.
Once again a Falcons drive ends in a field goal, a telling motif for the Falcons season. The Falcons are going to have to play perfect defense the rest of the game if they are to stand a chance.
In his first game back this season, Michael Jenkins already has four receptions for 78 yards in the third quarter. His career-high is nine catches for 83 yards.
In a huge momentum swing, Matt Ryan found Tony Gonzalez in the end zone to bring the halftime deficit to only 14. Two plays after Harry Douglas got the pass interference call putting the ball on the one-yard-line, Gonzalez cashed in.
Gonzalez has been double-teamed all day as the Eagles try to take him out of the gameplan. This touchdown has been his only catch of the game.
The play that led to the play that brought the Falcons to within 14 points at halftime. Enjoy in all it’s video glory.
Moore now has three interceptions on the year.
The Falcons’ ground game has to get on track gaining only 35 yards in the first half while the Eagles have rolled up 85.
A late interception by William Moore gave the Falcons great field position and they cashed in on a Matt Ryan to Tony Gonzalez touchdown pass to bring the Falcons within 14 at the half.
Tony Gonzalez caught a one yard touchdown to make things competitive going into halftime.
But it took a lot of things to happen for the Falcons to get that score, it’s another thing to drive down the field which Atlanta has not done. Still a lot of concerning things going into halftime.
DeSean will be the same as it’s most likely he has concussion symptoms after the big hit by Robinson.
Bad field position combined with overall terrible play has let the Eagles kick it into gear. Kevin Kolb is getting plenty of time and making all the right reads, Philadelphia is simply outplaying Atlanta.
The Falcons are not the best team in the NFC anymore.
Jackson has already tied his personal record with two touchdowns in a game. Unless the Falcons change up their coverage, Jackson could be in for a record-setting day in Philadelphia.
As the Eagles came marching down the field again Dunta Robinson layed some wood on DeSean Jackson as he tried to stop the first down. Both Robinson and Jackson left the field with assistance as they head to the locker room.
A 15 Yard penalty was tacked on at the end for a defenseless receiver, helping the Eagles in their quest to put this game out of reach.
The start of the second quarter is upon us and as my colleague James Grayson offers:
An already dull day gets a little worse as third-string running back Antone Smith went down with an injury on a special teams play. It seemed Smith was a little giddy walking off the field as it seemed it was an injury to the back.
Stay tuned to SBN ATL for any more updates.
It’s all well and good to say the Falcons never start off well, but a 14-0 hole, is a 14-0 hole. The Falcons offense can’t finish drives, the defense can’t stop them. The Eagles are out playing, out executing and in my view are out coaching the Falcons.
Waking up is no longer our concern, there’s a football game to be played.
After Michael Jenkins’ 41-yard catch, Hobbs collided with a teammate and is questionable to return.
There was video evidence the Falcons could have challenged the play – as Jackson’ elbow was down before the goalline – but Mike Smith elected not to throw the red flag.
Michael Jenkins has been the target of all three Matt Ryan’s pass attempts – including a great 41-yard catch-and-run – in his first game back from a shoulder injury suffered on August 6.
The Falcons had a chance to put points on the board, but a 41-yard field goal attempt by Matt Bryant hit the left upright. The score is 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
Abraham didn’t contain the end around and so we were punished with a big gash across our forehead.
Falcons need to wake up.
We can put the speculation to rest now. The Atlanta Falcons will not see Michael Vick in today’s game at Lincoln Financial Field. As much as Vick wants to play against his former team, it’s apparent that Andy Reid thinks he’s the Eagles’ future at quarterback and doesn’t want to risk aggravating his rib injury.
All eyes have been on Vick this week so it’s somewhat surprising he was late to the stadium and now not warming up with the team. Jay Glazer also reported that Vick could enter the game if he needed to handoff but he can’t take a hit with the rib cartilage damage.
Unless Andy Reid is playing an epic game of cat-and-mouse, Vick’s only impact in this game will be of the emotional variety.
From Les Bowen:
But the Atlanta team the Eagles rolled over last season was banged up and disheartened. And I have to wonder if the way Reid let Vick roll up the score that day in the Georgia Dome really set all that well with Vick’s former teammates. Atlanta never wronged Vick or did anything that should make him want to seek revenge; in fact, it was the other way around, Vick’s prison term leaving the Falcons’ franchise briefly in ruins.
Bowen picks the Falcons to win 20-13 based largely on this revenge scenario. It is unfortunate that Michael Vick will not be playing in this one since it would have brought the story full circle. There’s a chance he could still get in the game, but it’s not likely, though Jason Kirk thinks Vick will find a way to make it happen.
I’m not sure what the protocol is for emergency quarterbacks and how soon they should arrive at the stadium but Adam Schefter seems to think it’s a big deal so I’ll bite.
We found out this morning that Vick would be the team’s third quarterback meaning the chances that the Falcons would get to exact some revenge for last season’s 34-7 Eagles’ win, would be slim at best.
Now it appears Vick will be a footnote in this crucial NFC matchup. Kevin Kolb vs. the Atlanta Falcons doesn’t have the same ring to it, but I don’t see a whole lot of Falcons’ fans complaining about that.
As all of metro Atlanta crams to understand the NFL’s bizarre quarterback depth chart rule, here’s all you really need to know:
Michael Vick the 3rd QB. If he plays in Qtrs 1-3, Kolb & Kafka cannot return. If he plays in 4th, other QBs can return to the game #atlphi10less than a minute ago via TweetDeckAtlanta_Falcons
My favorite Kafka humor piece:
Weatherspoon is fifth among rookies with 29 tackles and has been an energy bolt for this defense that has allowed only 14.0 points per game.
Kevin Kolb will get the start at quarterback for the Eagles but it will be Mike Kafka – and not Michael Vick – who will back him up. Vick, who is recovering from rib cartilage damage, will be the team’s emergency third quarterback.
Michael Vick will be listed as the Eagles’ No. 3 quarterback in Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, meaning he isn’t quite ready to return from a rib cartilage injury sustained two weeks ago. Rookie Mike Kafka, who hasn’t played in an NFL regular-season game, will be Kolb’s backup.
The listing of Vick as the third quarterback is important since many think he will try to play against his former team. If Vick plays however, it means that Kolb and Kafka cannot return to the game. The official text of the rule:
Teams will be permitted an Active List of 45 players and an Inactive List of eight players for each regular-season and postseason game. Provided that a club has two quarterbacks on its 45-player Active List, a third quarterback from its Inactive List is permitted to dress for the game, but if he enters the game during the first three quarters, the other two quarterbacks are thereafter prohibited from playing.
If Vick was the No. 2 quarterback, you can bet the Falcons would see him but as it stands now, there’ll be no Vick against the Falcons.
One blogger’s theory is that while Michael Vick won’t start Sunday, he’ll play all right. Here’s another morsel of evidence we can put towards that conspiracy cupcake, from the Philadelphia Daily News and via SB Nation Philadelphia:
Vick said: “I could dress out. We’re just going to see how it goes for the next couple of days. I’m making progress each and every day; it’s a credit to the training staff. Just feeling good and ready to go.”
Vick said he still has pain “in my shoulders, but I can tolerate it; it’s not as bad as it was (even) two days ago. Each day I make progress.”
In Atlanta, Vick caused more than one football fan to note his ability to curiously Wolverine his ailments into shape at will for big games. During his long 2003 layoff, Dan Reeves publicly said Vick needed to come back before he was 100 percent. Weeks later, Vick returned for a prime-time Sunday nighter against the division rival Panthers, entering the stadium after a nationally televised montage that included helicopter sweeps of Atlanta, Ludacris, mobs of passerby chanting Vick’s name, highlights, and cheerleader speaking roles. It’s not on YouTube anymore, sorry.
He’s grown up a million times over since then, so I wouldn’t dream of implying anyone would have reason to think he’s been nursing an injury for drama these past couple weeks (I’m not even totally sure he was doing it back then). But he’s got it in him to choose to play based on weight and moment, and this is a very big game for both teams, the NFC, Atlanta, and Michael Vick.
I think Vick will play. But boringest case scenario, Kevin Kolb’s backup will be Mike Kafka, and we can still make all types of stupid jokes about that guy’s name.
The Atlanta Falcons could be without the services of rookie LB Sean Weatherspoon this weekend. He's officially listed as questionable. Weatherspoon, who injured his knee in the third quarter in Cleveland, did not practice all week after an MRI revealed a sprained right knee. Stephen Nicholas can expect to start his place. The last time Nicholas replaced Weatherspoon he had 13 tackles against the 49ers in Week 4.
Joining Weatherspoon as questionable is DE John Abraham. Abraham (back) was a limited participant in practice all three days. If he can't go, the Falcons may turn towards Lawrence Sidbury. Abraham, though, has to be chomping at the bit to play against an Eagles' offensive line that has given up the second-most sacks in league.
LB Curtis Lofton (knee), WR Brian Finneran (knee) were both full participants in practice and should be good to go for Sunday. TE Justin Peele was limited and is officially questionable with a groin injury.
Well, panel of pickers at least.
I felt like picking the Falcons made me a homer, since this is going to be a very tough game, but my colleagues agree:
Don't forget to disagree with the rest of our NFL week six picks!
Reid hasn’t specifically said Vick won’t play, which could be a good sign considering the team’s record in games that feature both quarterbacks. Or it could be a bad sign considering, again, last year.
One of my favorite pre-game reads every week and we get it a little earlier than usual.
My favorite highlights follow or download the whole sheet here.
Eagles running back LeSean McCoy is the only player in the NFL with 350-plus rush yards (365) and 200-plus receiving yards (218).
The always-important turnover battle will be a factor on Sunday. The team that turns the ball over the least and takes it away more usually wins. Under head coach Mike Smith the Falcons are 14-1 when they win the turnover battle. Sunday’s game features two of the top teams in turnover differential. Atlanta is tied for second in the NFL with a plus-7 turnover differential. The team they’re tied with: the Philadelphia Eagles.
Welcome to the pre-game quick hit stats-apalooza. Enjoy.
Falcons Vs. Eagles
Their Week 6 meeting will be 28th meeting between the Falcons and Eagles. The Falcons trail the series 11-16-1 and have lost seven of the last eight games. After beating the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns, this is another opportunity for the Falcons to end a long franchise losing streak.
The Falcons record against the Eagles (by decade):
Average Score in all 28 meetings:
Most Points Scored:
Falcons 44, Nov. 11, 1973
Eagles 38, Oct. 1, 2000 and Oct. 8, 1967
Fewest Points Scored:
Falcons 0, Oct. 5, 1986
Eagles 3, Dec. 14, 1969
The Eagles' Andy Reid is 121-77-1 as a head coach. He is 5-4 in Week 6 games lifetime.
Mike Smith is 24-14 as Falcons head coach and is 2-0 in Week 6 games.
Best Individual Performances Against the Eagles:
(Sports Network) – Kolb (478 passing yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) was a credit to the winning cause last week, throwing a nice touchdown pass to tight end Brent Celek (15 receptions, 2 TD) following a long scramble, and also showing chemistry with wideout Jeremy Maclin (18 receptions, 4 TD) to the tune of six completions and 95 yards. The performance didn’t quell the criticism that Kolb is incapable of throwing the deep balls that No. 1 receiver DeSean Jackson (18 receptions, 2 TD) has made a living off of, however, as evidenced by Jackson’s stat line of two catches and 24 yards. An appearance by Vick (799 passing yards, 6 TD, 0 INT) in the lineup would be good news for Jackson, and probably good news for an o-line that will be replacing injured left tackle Jason Peters with the shaky King Dunlap on Sunday. The Eagles rank No. 1 in the NFL in yards per carry (5.3), and while some of that number can be attributed to the scrambling abilities of Vick, running back LeSean McCoy (365 rushing yards, 5 TD, 28 receptions) has been impressive carrying the football as well. Newly-acquired Birds running back Jerome Harrison (91 rushing yards with the Browns), who was traded in exchange for RB Mike Bell on Wednesday, will interestingly be facing the Falcons for a second straight week. Harrison carried six times for six yards versus Atlanta last week, while in a Cleveland uniform.
Whoever plays quarterback for Philadelphia on Sunday will have to avoid the major mistake against a Falcons defense that has intercepted an NFL-best 10 passes, including Biermann’s big pick last week and another one by linebacker Stephen Nicholas (22 tackles, 1 INT). Cornerbacks Dunta Robinson (22 tackles) and Brent Grimes (18 tackles, 1 INT) will likely have primary responsibility against Jackson and Maclin, respectively, with safeties William Moore (17 tackles, 2 INT) and Thomas DeCoud (24 tackles, 1 INT) helping out over the top. Moore had a fumble recovery against the Browns last week. The pass rush has been paced by Biermann (12 tackles, 1 sack) and veteran end John Abraham (12 tackles, 4 sacks), who terrorized Browns left tackle Joe Thomas for a pair of sacks last week. The Falcons are a healthy eighth in the league against the run as Week 6 begins, with young linebackers Curtis Lofton (36 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT) and Sean Weatherspoon (29 tackles, 1 sack) working well behind a front wall led by tackle Jonathan Babineaux (9 tackles, 2 sacks).
(Sports Network) – The Falcons have achieved very good offensive balance thus far in 2010, ranking in the top half of the league in both rushing and passing for a collective mark of seventh in NFL total offense. The approach has, however, skewed toward the run, with Michael Turner (421 rushing yards, 1 TD) generally stirring the drink and Jason Snelling (244 rushing yards, 11 receptions, 3 TD) called upon on occasion as well. Turner did not play against the Eagles last year due to injury, and was held to 58 yards on 17 carries in the 2008 meeting. When Ryan (1165 passing yards, 7 TD, 3 INT) throws it, he looks most often to White (37 receptions, 3 TD) and tight end Tony Gonzalez (24 receptions, 1 TD), though that crew could be joined by a talented veteran face on Sunday. Falcons wide receiver Michael Jenkins, who has missed the first five games of the season due to a shoulder injury, is slated to make his 2010 debut. White and Gonzalez combined for 17 catches and 176 yards against the Birds last year, albeit in a losing effort. Ryan was sacked twice by the Browns last week, bringing Atlanta’s total in that category to 10 on the year.
The Eagles are a middle-of-the-pack 15th in total defense as Week 6 begins, but come off a week in which they bottled up 49ers running back Frank Gore (18 carries, 52 yards, two lost fumbles) and also goaded quarterback Alex Smith into two interceptions and a lost fumble. Backup cornerbacks Trevard Lindley (3 tackles, 1 INT) and Dimitri Patterson (3 tackles, 1 INT) had the picks, while end Brandon Graham (6 tackles, 2 sacks) strip-sacked Smith and safety Quintin Mikell (31 tackles) took it to the house for a critical 52-yard fumble return- TD early in the fourth quarter. Ends Trent Cole (26 tackles, 3 sacks) and Juqua Parker (8 tackles, 4 sacks) will be among the others pursuing Ryan this week, and Asante Samuel (13 tackles, 1 INT) and Nate Allen (19 tackles, 3 INT, 1 sack) will spend much of their afternoon concentrating on White. An Eagles run- stopping unit that has been hit-or-miss this year will be without the services of defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley (elbow) due to an elbow injury. Mike Patterson (14 tackles) and Trevor Laws (6 tackles, 2 sacks) will have to be stout at the point of attack, with linebackers Stewart Bradley (18 tackles) and Ernie Sims (20 tackles, 1 sack) among those attempting to make plays behind the trench unit.
(Sports Network) – The Eagles hold a 14-10-1 edge in their all-time regular season series with the Falcons, and have won each of the last three head-to-head meetings with Atlanta. Philadelphia was a 34-7 winner when it visited the Georgia Dome in Week 13 of last season, a game that saw Chris Redman start in place of the injured Ryan. Vick led Atlanta to its most recent win in the series, a 14-10 affair at the Georgia Dome in a Monday Night matchup to open the 2005 campaign.
In addition to their regular season advantage, the Eagles are 2-1 against the Falcons in the playoffs. Philadelphia was a 27-10 winner in the 2004 NFC Championship, defeated the Falcons, 20-6, in a 2002 NFC Divisional Playoff, and dropped a 14-13 road decision in a 1978 NFC First-Round Playoff.
Including playoffs, the Falcons are 0-5 in Philadelphia since last winning there in 1988.
Eagles head coach Andy Reid is 7-1 as a head coach against Atlanta, including the two aforementioned playoff wins. The Falcons’ Mike Smith is 0-2 against both Reid and the Eagles as a head coach.
(Sports Network) – A hint of quarterback drama will be in the air on both sides of Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, when the Philadelphia Eagles play host to the Atlanta Falcons in a battle of two of the NFC’s top teams thus far in 2010.
For the homestanding Eagles, the man behind center is currently a mystery. Starter and ex-Falcon Michael Vick missed last week’s 27-24 win at the San Francisco 49ers with rib injuries, but told reporters on Wednesday that it was still possible that he could play against his former team.
If he can’t, the job would again go to demoted opening-day starter Kevin Kolb, who played generally well in the road win last Sunday night, completing 21- of-31 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown to shake off a rough effort, in relief of Vick, against Washington the week before.
The identity of the Atlanta starting QB will not be a mystery on Sunday, but the Falcons’ Matt Ryan will be under intense scrutiny nonetheless.
Ryan, a native of the Philadelphia suburb of Exton who attended high school at Penn Charter in Philly, will be taking a second crack at an NFL win in his hometown.
Ryan opened a 27-14 loss at the Linc on Oct. 26, 2008, with the then-rookie throwing for 277 yards and two touchdowns but also firing two interceptions in the defeat.
The former first-rounder has come a long way since, and has the first-place Falcons on the brink of their first five-game winning streak in a single season since 1998, when Atlanta won 11 in a row en route to their lone Super Bowl appearance.
The Falcons extended their win streak to four with last week’s 20-10 win at Cleveland, which handed Atlanta its first victory at the Browns since 1971.
On a grind-it-out sort of day, it was running back Michael Turner (19 carries, 140 yards) moving the chains, wideout Roddy White (5 receptions, 101 yards including a 45-yard touchdown catch) adding value through the air, and Ryan (16-of-28, 187 yards, 1 TD) continuing his recent run of efficiency.
The Falcons defense forced exactly three turnovers for the fourth consecutive game, including a 41-yard interception return by defensive end Kroy Biermann that sealed the game in the fourth-quarter. The unit also held emerging Browns running back Peyton Hillis, who had logged back-to-back 100-yard days, to just 28 yards on 10 carries.
The victory was enough to keep Atlanta (4-1) a half-game up on surprising Tampa Bay (3-1) in the NFC South, with New Orleans (3-2) falling a full game back with their stunning loss in Arizona.
Technically, the four-game winning streak is the Falcons longest since 2003-04, when the Falcons won six straight. Atlanta finished the ’03 season with a couple of wins in a row under interim head coach Wade Phillips, before winning its first four under Jim Mora in 2004.
Watch whichever Eagle is passing, yes, and the wide assortment of targets available to whichever gent that may be. But the most important member of Philadelphia's offense will be King Dunlap, who's either an 1890's logging executive, Coweta County late-night AM radio host, west coast competitive eating champion, or archrival of 1950's pro wrestler Moose Cholak:
Dunlap entered last week's game at left tackle after starter Jason Peters went down. The deposed monarch of Auburn, Alabama then gave up three sacks in well under 60 minutes of football -- and this week he's facing John Abraham, who just collected two sacks via three-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas.
Dunlap is six-foot-nine and well over 330, meaning he'll find a way to envelop Abraham on many plays but will be beaten outside more than once. Also, he may actually be a competitive eating champion after all. As Moose Cholak himself once said about his own swelling frame: "This isn't fat. This is maturity."
Of course, it wouldn't be shocking to see Abe choose to rush from the other side against the more experienced and capable Winston Justice, putting Kroy Biermann in Dunlap's jurisdiction. Last week Abraham was given the choice of where to line up and elected to take on Thomas. We'll be fine with either Abe or Duff against the benevolent dictator of the west Georgia border -- whatever.
Not to be outdone, Trent Cole is looking forward to lining up against Sam Baker. Cole has 50 sacks in 69 career starts, and Baker is by far the most maligned Falcons offensive lineman. So far The Beard has given up more penalty yardage than sack yardage, though it wouldn't be a surprise to see a field position debit of each variety attributed to him on Sunday.
Cole is the best pass rusher the Falcons have faced since seeing James Harrison in week one, and their attempts at blocking Harrison didn't go very well.
I'm saying you need to watch both left tackle battles.
The Eagles have beaten the Lions, Jaguars, and 49ers, a combined 3-11 -- all on the road. They've lost to the Redskins and Packers, both 3-2 NFC contenders -- both at home. Last year Philly went 6-2 at home and 5-4 on the road (yes, they earned one of those five in the Georgia Dome), so don't expect that home field disadvantage trend to continue.
The Falcons, meanwhile, have won ugly for three straight weeks after blowing out the Cardinals and losing to the Steelers 15-9, a '90s baseball score. Atlanta has looked more impressive so far, though it hasn't been forced to (and/or willingly elected to) use a quarterback rotation.
The Atlanta Falcons (along with the New York Jets) have the longest current winning streak in the NFL. Come to think of it, they've yet to trail at the end of regulation in any game this season. They are the No. 3 team in the Unbiased Power Rankings and are only one of four teams with four wins through five weeks. Do the experts have faith in the Falcons, on the road, against a team they've beaten only once since 1998? Let's find out.
|ESPN Consensus||Falcons||Eight of 10 experts picked Atlanta with only Mark Schlereth and Accuscore going with the Eagles at home.|
|Yahoo Sports Consensus||Falcons||Three of four (including Fan vote) picked the Falcons. Only Jason Cole thinks the Eagles win at home.|
|CBS Sports Consensus||Falcons||Four out of five experts like the Falcons but Katzowitz is in Philly's corner.|
|Fanhouse||Falcons||Dave Goldberg: If this game was in Atlanta, Andy Reid would have to declare Michael Vick fit and play him. At the Linc, where the Iggles have sustained both their losses, it's still Kevin Kolb. Falcons 22, Eagles 20.|
|What If Sports||Eagles||The Eagles won over 78% of the simulations with an average score of 28 to 15.|
|Sports Illustrated||Eagles||Peter King: We interrupt this game prediction to bring you this gee-whiz reaction to the Mike Bell-for-Jerome Harrison trade: What?!?! Bell's a guy. Harrison's a comet. Harrison's last three games last season for the Browns: 106 carries, 561 yards, five touchdowns. I don't know how he got so ensconced in Eric Mangini's doghouse, but I do know this: That's one heck of a trade for the Eagles. Eagles 23, Falcons 17.|
|USA Today||Falcons||For the second straight week, all eight experts picked the Falcons.|
|Sporting News||Falcons||Four out of six experts think the Falcons will move to 5-1. Only Todd Wright and Russ Lande disagree.|
For those of scoring at home, that's 28 experts in the Falcons corner with eight picking the Eagles. I'm really hopeful the reports out of Philly are true and Vick can't go. The Falcons have struggled with mobile quarterbacks (Dennis Dixon, Seneca Wallace) but with Kolb behind center, I like Atlanta's chances.
On offense, Jackson's production is all about the quarterback. The contrast is stark.
In 11 quarters with the currently sidelined Michael Vick as the Eagles' quarterback, Jackson has 14 catches for 324 yards and two touchdowns.
In nine quarters with Kevin Kolb at quarterback, Jackson has four catches for 37 yards and no touchdowns.
With the news that Vick is still questionable to play, Falcons fans should breathe a little easier knowing that one of the game's most dynamic receivers could be handcuffed.
However, Elfin added:
Maybe, but it's a good thing for Jackson and the Eagles that offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said today that Vick still hopes to play Sunday against Atlanta and will do "a few things today."
Every team wants to start fast. Execute your offense and establish a tempo early and the rest of the game becomes that much easier. For the Atlanta Falcons opponent this week, that has become routine.
Since 2008, the Philadelphia Eagles have scored more points in the first quarter than any other NFL team. Their 247 points in 41 games - 6.0 average - is 10 points better than the second-place team, Indianapolis.
The Falcons aren't slouches in this category (sixth in the NFL with 206 points in 38 games), but they'll need to be focused and sharp early on because the Eagles have shown they don't wait for you to to find your rhythym.
In last season's meeting, the Eagles put up 10 first quarter points en route to 34 unanswered. In five games this season, the Falcons have been outscored in the first quarter by 17 points.
Vick said that he threw Wednesday for the first time since he suffered cartilage damage to his ribs 11 days ago and that he’s “got a shot” at returning in time for Sunday’s game against his former team, the Atlanta Falcons.
“I’ve made progress every day,” Vick said. “Last week I couldn’t brush my hair, but now I can brush my hair. So that’s a good thing.”
He still hasn’t practiced yet this week, though we’ll certainly pass along word once we find out about his status today. Then again, Vick claims he “doesn't need practice to play,” which may just be the Philly talking:
Previous hair-related Vick news includes his 2006 decision to let his hair grow out until the Falcons won the Super Bowl, and the 2007 cutting of his hair when
the Falcons won the Super Bowl he had to go to court.
Well, Dunta Robinson and the other guy, he’s a little bit short and things like that.
How did we arrive at such a statement? Let’s retrace our steps.
DeSean, what do you think about the Falcons’ secondary?
Well, Dunta Robinson.
It all starts with Dunta, doesn’t it?
And things like that.
Definitely, a secondary needs more than just one guy. Do you think Falcons defensive backs work well together?
Well, Dunta Robinson and the other guy.
… work hand-in-hand?
I would prefer not to.
What can you tell us about Dunta Robinson, DeSean?
I would prefer not to.
All right. How about the rest of the secondary?
And the other guy.
Brent Grimes, the other starting cornerback?
The other guy.
The other guy.
Can you tell us the name of which guy it is you’re talking about? This could take forever.
I would prefer not to.
Does he have five interceptions over his last eight games?
Well, Dunta Robinson.
No, Dunta Robinson doesn’t have any interceptions. They complain about it all the time on message boards and blogs. Do you ever read those?
He’s a little bit short.
He’s actually kind of big for a cornerback. Wait, I’m talking about Dunta, who are you talking about?
Things like that.
Brent Grimes is kind of like Dunta Robinson. They’re both Falcons cornerbacks.
And the other guy.
Now you’ve moved on to our nickel back?
I would prefer not to.
OK, back to Brent Grimes, or whoever. How do you think you match up with this individual?
He’s a little bit short.
And things like that.
What things are like being short?
Well, Dunta Robinson.
Aren’t you kind of short, too?
Well, Dunta Robinson and things like that.
ATLANTA FALCONS PRACTICE REPORT
DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE:
Wednesday: LB Sean Weatherspoon (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
Wednesday: DE John Abraham (back), LB Curtis Lofton (knee), TE Justin Peelle (groin)
FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
Wednesday: WR Brian Finneran (knee)
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES PRACTICE REPORT
LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
Wednesday:WR Riley Cooper (concussion)
AHHHHHH, Jerome Harrison. How we’ve missed you.
Peyton Hillis’ backup gained six yards on six carries against the Falcons last Sunday, which is more of an argument against the Browns’ line than it is against Harrison, as Hillis himself didn’t have a very good rushing day either.
Harrison is more similar to starter LeSean McCoy than Mike Bell was, so presumably Andy Reid is looking for a specific type of back and not change-of-pace guys. It’ll be interesting to see two opposing backfields composed of opposites — the Falcons’ thunder-and-thunder approach, starring Michael Turner and Jason Snelling, against the Eagles’ waves-of-speed attack.
(This isn't our Mike Bell, of course. Our Mike Bell spent the late afternoon impersonating a waiter at a Mexican restaurant trying to get patrons to order Chino Cadahia, described as a dish composed of "refried beans with a layer of bacon," as David Pollack grimaced. Chino Cadahia is the name of a departing Atlanta Braves coach.)
Harrison had 228 touches, including 34 receptions, in 2009, so it’s not like there hasn’t been a place for him in Eric Mangini’s preferred offense.
Unless Harrison wasn’t getting along well with others in Cleveland, as had been rumored, this is a strange trade. From early reviews, public opinion seems to be that the Eagles won this one outright:
It’s looking more and more like the Falcons will miss their chance at making up for last year’s e-Vick-sceration (HELLO?) and will instead have to contain the more traditional Kevin Kolb.
Kolb may still be the second-best passer the Birds will have faced yet, and he’s got weapons like the third verse in “ATLiens.” The Eagles offense, which has posted the league's fifth-best yards per play average, is going to score regardless.
It’s disappointing from a storyline perspective, especially since Atlanta has a pass rush now and Vick is so very sackable, but most Falcons fans are going to be more confident in facing Kolb, who’s been sacked eight times in 89 dropbacks himself.
When Michael Jenkins injured his shoulder during the Friday Night Lights scrimmage on August 6, his recovery was estimated at four-to-six weeks. Now, over 10 weeks later, he'll make his debut against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The long, national nightmare is finally over. Now we can finally put to rest the mystery surrounding Jenkins' injury which had D. Orlando Ledbetter wondering aloud if the injury was more serious than the Falcons were letting on.
Smith sounded like he plans to insert Jenkins right back into his spot as the No. 2 starting receiver opposite Roddy White. Harry Douglas had been starting, with Brian Finneran and Eric Weems also getting play time. But the Falcons ideally want to use Douglas as the slot receiver. Although Jenkins never has put up prolific numbers, he’s viewed as a dependable possession receiver and also is considered one of the league’s top receivers when it comes to run blocking.
While the "run blocker argument" has been discounted, Jenkins really can't be any less productive than Harry Douglas has been. I was a big HD supporter but he's done nothing to show he can be a big-time No. 2 receiver. Here's hoping Jenkins' return will open things up for Douglas in the slot.
Owens, a former First-Team All-SEC member and a seventh round draft pick in this year's draft, could be elevated from the practice squad to take Bunkley's roster spot.
In other injury news, quarterback Michael Vick (ribs), left tackle Jason Peters (knee), cornerback Asante Samuel (concussion) and wide receiver Riley Cooper (concussion) are uncertain for the upcoming game against Atlanta.
Bunkley, who was selected 14th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft, had started 56 games since 2007.
According to Jay Glazer, the Eagles say Michael Vick is a "longshot" to start next week against the Falcons, though Vick fully intends to play. Vick left Philadelphia's week four game against the Redskins with what's been revealed to be a rib and sternum injury, and now looks to be a "several week" setback:
As Curt Menefee notes, Vick would like another chance to beat his former team. The sentiment is certainly mutual after last year's debacle.
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