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.