Atlanta Falcons Tarnish 'Dream Team' On Sunday Night Football, 35-31

The Atlanta Falcons gave the Super Bowl favorites their first setback, with Michael Vick knocked out due to a neck injury in his return.

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Falcons Vs. Eagles Final Score: Falcons Notch First Win In 35-31 Victory Over "The Dream Team"

Holding onto a slim four-point lead with under five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles offense took over with Mike Kafka at the helm. To this blogger's horror, Kafka was surprisingly effective. With the help of a bunch of a few screen passes, he was able to guide the Eagles all the way down to the Atlanta 21 at the time of the two-minute warning.

The Falcons came up with a big stop on third down, courtesy of an exemplary wrap-up tackle by Chris Owens, and the Eagles trotted out to go for it on fourth down. On a night where Jeremy Maclin absolutely shredded the Falcons defense, the Falcons come up with a huge fourth down stop that all but seals the Falcons victory.

And then, Mike Smith does something that shall forever confuse this Falcons fan. Instead of trying to run for the first down with Michael Turner, one of the best backs in the league, Smith elected to kneel the ball three times and punt the ball away with 0:15 left in the game. Keep in mind that Matt Bosher is not a very good punter and DeSean Jackson is one of the best return men in the league. Just something worth pointing out.

Still, a win is a win. Better yet, a win over a very good football team in the Eagles has the Falcons back on track in this 2011 season. Breathe easy, folks. Now is the time to bask in the glow of tonight's win. It's great to see the Falcons "are who we thought they were." Full, glorious recap to come tomorrow.

For more, head to Falcons blog The Falcoholic and Eagles blog Bleeding Green Nation

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Falcons Vs. Eagles Update: 61-Yard Michael Turner Run Gives Falcons A 35-31 Lead Late In The Fourth

The Falcons began this last, crucial quarter of football on a third-and-12, but a great completion to Tony Gonzalez by Ryan bailed the Falcons out and kept their hopes alive. Three plays later, a fantastic third-down catch by Julio Jones really kept things moving and really lit the fire under his Falcons teammates.

Atlanta would then come up with a crucial score, responding to 21 unanswered points by the Eagles, on a short TD pass to Ovie Mughelli. That would be Matt Ryan's fourth of the night, and brought the Falcons to within a field goal of tying the Eagles. With Mike Kafka in at quarterback, the game is in the Falcons' hands at this point.

So, the Eagles took over with a three-point lead, and (surprise) continued to hand it off to LeSean McCoy. Tackling wasn't at its best here, and time after time McCoy has been able to turn nothing into a solid gain. Not good news for the Falcons was Corey Peters, who was slow to get up and taken off the field with some sort of injury. Hopefully he hasn't reaggravated that knee injury he suffered in preseason, though it wouldn't surprise me if that was the case.

However, the game continued on, and Curtis Lofton made a great third-down stop that got the Falcons defense off the field. If the Eagles had scored with Mike Kafka, I would have been severely disappointed. 

A holding penalty on the next drive had the Falcons on a first-and-17, but right when we needed him Turner The BURNA busted out for a 61-yard run that ended at the Philly 26-yard line. The offense was in business, and a few plays later found themselves deep in the redzone. Then on a first-and-goal at the three, Turner finished what he started  running it in for his first score of the night.

All of a sudden the Falcons have put up 14 unanswered points and hold their first lead since very early in the third quarter. With under five minutes to go on this, the Falcons are up 35-31 on the Eagles. Time to close this one out!

For more, head to Falcons blog The Falcoholic and Eagles blog Bleeding Green Nation.

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Falcons Vs. Eagles Recap: Atlanta Scores, But Eagles Lead 24-21 Early In Second Half

As we begin the second half, it's interesting to note that Matt Ryan only has 53 passing yards in this first half despite having two TD throws. The Falcons need to give him more time in the pocket going forward if they want to win this game. 

Having said that, on the opening possession of the half Ryan was sacked right off the bat, this time by Jason Babin. The Falcons quickly went three-and-out, which isn't quite the way I envisioned the Falcons beginning this second half.

However, Atlanta's fortunes were turned around, and very quickly at that. On the Eagle's first offensive play of the half, an errant Michael Vick pass somehow found its way into the hands of waiting Kelvin Hayden. There was some contention as to whether the ball came out of Hayden's hands, but there was no challenge and the game carried on. That last-minute signing is looking an awful lot better, considering Chris Owens' sub-par performance against Chicago.

It didn't take long for the Falcons to take advantage of that turnover either. Only two plays later, Matt Ryan would connect with Tony Gonzalez on a 17-yard TD pass, Gonzo's second of the night. That gave the Falcons a 21-10 lead early in this second half.

The Eagles, however, would quickly respond with a score of their own on the ensuing drive. LeSean McCoy, who was almost non-existent in the first half, broke off for a 23-yard run. That was followed with a 36-yard catch-and-run to Jeremy Maclin shortly thereafter that cut the Falcons' lead to 21-17.

And then on the first play of the very next possession was Atlanta's worst nightmare: another Falcons turnover. Asante Samuel made a spectacular interception that looked as if it may have hit the turn. Mike Smith challenged, but all was for nought. The Eagles took over, and with great field position they very quickly scored again.

What was once an 11-point lead vanished in the matter of mere minutes. The Falcons absolutely cannot allow the Eagles to gain any sort of offensive momentum. Even more so, they have to take care of the ball. The offense will have to respond big time on the upcoming drive. Eagles lead 24-21.

For more on the Atlanta Falcons visit The Falcoholic. For more on the Philadelphia Eagles visit Bleeding Green Nation.

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Falcons Vs. Eagles Halftime Update: Falcons Leading 14-10 Following Tony Gonzalez TD Grab

As the Eagles pushed all the way down to the Falcons eight-yard line, it looked as if the defense had come up with a fortunate stop as DeSean Jackson dropped a third-down pass in the endzone. But wouldn't you know it, John Abraham was called offsides and Philly got a free first down. Unfortunate timing, to say the least.

Then on second-and-goal, one of either Brent Grimes or Dunta Robinson completely blew their coverage assignment, leaving Jeremy Maclin wide open for the score. Still, the defense has looked downright dominant against the run and have also gotten good pressure on Mike Vick at times.

However, some great coverage courtesy of that vaunted Eagles secondary snuffed out any chances of putting a drive together very quickly. Nnamdi Asomugha showed why he's considered the best in the league with some absolutely flawless coverage of Julio Jones on third-down.

The Falcons punted from their own 16, but a pretty weak kick by Matt Bosher gave the Eagles some great starting field position. Then after giving up a 29-yard pass to Jason Avant on third down, the Falcons defense came up huge in the red zone and limited Philly to an Alex Henery field goal. Ray Edwards had Mike Vick all alone in the backfield, which in turn caused an ill-advised throw that was tipped by Curtis Lofton and nearly picked off. 

After a very forgettable Falcons possession that was ended by (guess what) a third-down sack of Matt Ryan, the Eagles began their drive with (very lucky) 24-yard strike to Brent Celek. Vance Walker was in Vick's face and Celek somehow managed to reel in a one-handed catch. A third-down run by Vick gave the Eagles a first-and-goal, and with the Eagles poised to go up by two scores the Falcons looked as if their backs were against the wall.

Ray Edwards had other plans. Peria Jerry showed off that explosiveness by getting in the backfield almost immediately, forcing Vick to fumble the handoff. Keeping his wits about him, Edwards took advantage of this prime opportunity by scooping up that fumble and returning it for 64 yards, all the way to the Philadelphia 24-yard line.

So, the Falcons offense took over at the two-minute warning with fantastic field position, looking to take the lead in this highly contested game before the half. With only 50 seconds left in the half on a third-and-three inside the Philadelphia five-yard line, Matt Ryan found Tony Gonzalez in the back of the endzone for a spectacular tip-toe TD catch. I'm serious: Gonzo went way up and somehow got both feet down for what is probably the best catch in this short season.

And then we got to see some good, old-fashioned vintage Michael Vick football. On a play where the Falcons only rushed three, Vick looked to make a play with his feet but was subsequently stripped by John Abraham. Matt Ryan promptly followed up that turnover with one of his own, and showed the rest of the league why you don't try to throw against Nnamdi Asomugha. Seriously Matty, think of him as meth: Not Even Once.

The Eagles then tried for a 63-yard field goal which unsurprisingly came up short. That effectively ended the first half, with Atlanta holding a slim 14-10 lead going forward. You have to really credit the defense so far in this one: only 10 points allowed and two turnovers is a far cry from last week's debacle. These are the real Falcons, folks.

For more on the Atlanta Falcons visit The Falcoholic. For more on the Philadelphia Eagles visit Bleeding Green Nation.

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Falcons Vs. Eagles Update: Defense Impressing Early As Game Remains Scoreless

This is the big one, folks! The Falcons will have their backs against the wall as they take on Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles in their home opener of the 2011 season. It won't be easy, and the Falcons have several areas they can improve upon following that disaster of a game last week in Chicago.

Well, Vick & Co. started out with the ball, and the Falcons quickly put an end to any hope of a quick score for Philly. After a quick first down completion to DeSean Jackson, the Eagles turned to LeSean McCoy, but the Atlanta defense put their feet in the ground and forced a punt, including a big stop on third down by Sean Weatherspoon. Spoon wasn't going to have any of that in his house.

In a similar theme from last week's game, the Falcons began their first drive with promise. There was much speculation that the Eagles would see a heavy dose of The Burner, Michael Turner. A not too promising third-and-12 then became a beautiful 15-yard completion to Julio Jones. Things were looking good.

But then on a third-and-5 at about midfield, Cullen Jenkins completely overwhelmed new starter Garrett Reynolds and nailed Matt Ryan for a sack. I'd also like to mention that there was crystal clear helmet-to-helmet contact on the play, and yet no flag. Alas, the evil referees strike again.

So, the Eagles took over on offense for the second time, and the defense continued to look strong early, forcing the completely unstoppable "Dream Team" offense to a three-and-out. Sean Weatherspoon again was all over the field. 

This was followed up by a nice 19-yard punt return by Eric Weems. Now, its time for the offense to step up. As we stand, this Sunday night matchup remains scoreless with six minutes left in the first quarter.

For more on the Atlanta Falcons visit The Falcoholic. For more on the Philadelphia Eagles visit Bleeding Green Nation.

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