Sunday, December 6, 2009
The defense was the story in this one as the Eagles nearly got their first shutout since 1996. While Atlanta was playing shorthanded without starting quarterback Matt Ryan and starting running back Michael Turner, the Eagles defense still played inspired, forcing three turnovers and coming up with several big 4th down stops. Atlanta had their moments of being able to move the ball but the defense nearly always responded with the big tackle or the big interception whenever the Falcons threatened to score. In fact, it took a last second touchdown pass for Atlanta to even get on the board in this one. Give the Eagles defense credit for stopping Atlanta when they went for it on 4th down early in the game and not ever letting the Falcons into the game.
Offensively, although they had their usual issues in the red zone, the Eagles had no problems moving the ball at will. Donovan McNabb had another solid performance, leading a fairly balanced attack with 238 yards and a touchdown pass to Leonard Weaver in his three quarters of work. Speaking of Weaver, he was in full beast-mode today as he had 100 total yards of offense, most of them coming on a 59 yard reception. Weaver did so well that the Eagles didn't even use LeSean McCoy that much as he was limited to only 2 yards rushing on 6 carries.
Michael Vick also had his best game for the Eagles in his return to Atlanta. Vick scored his first touchdown as an Eagle on a 5 yard run then later threw his first touchdown as an Eagle on a 5 yard pass to Brent Celek. On top of that, Vick also had his best pass as an Eagle, a 43 yarder to Reggie Brown. Vick played well enough to turn the Atlanta crowd, which booed him when he first stepped on the field, into big fans again as they chanted for him to play in the 3rd quarter.
In all, it was an easy win for the Eagles as they moved to 8-4 on the season and further solidified their playoff position. While the Eagles are still ahead in the Wild Card battle, the win keeps their hopes for an NFC East title alive as they continue to chase the Cowboys. The Eagles are just waiting for Dallas to slip up, which could happen against the Giants later this afternoon, and they will jump into a tie for the division lead.
Give the defense the game ball in this one for nearly getting their first shutout in 13 years. While it's easy to point at the Falcons back-up offense as the reason for the dominance, it's still incredibly difficult to keep an NFL team completely off the board for 59 minutes. If the defense keeps playing the way they did today the Eagles could be in for another deep playoff run.