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Eagles Hold Off Falcons In Season Opener, 18-12

The Eagles opened the 2018 NFL regular season by unveiling a Super Bowl banner and celebrating last year's accomplishments for what was supposed to be one final time.

But then, they paid homage to 2017 on the field with a game that featured remarkable similarities to their playoff run.

With a finish that was nearly a carbon-copy of the NFC Divisional Round battle last season, the Eagles defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 18-12, in the 2018 season opener thanks to a goal-line stand.

Quarterback Nick Foles completed 19 of 34 passes for 117 yards and running back Jay Ajayi led all rushers with 62 yards and scored both of the Eagles' touchdowns.

Tight end Zach Ertz led the Eagles with 48 yards on five receptions while wide receiver Nelson Agholor gained 33 yards on a team-high eight catches. Agholor also completed a very special pass to Foles for 15 yards.

"The biggest thing, again, [there was] just no panic on the sideline," head coach Doug Pederson told reporters after the game. "Resiliency, toughness, hanging with each other through all the ups and downs, the ebb and flow of the game, the mistakes, the penalties, turnover. Just the guys hanging together. Again, there was no panic tonight."

On the first drive of the NFL season, the Falcons looked sharp, using two end-arounds to gain yardage before a 33-yard pass to wide receiver Julio Jones set up a first-and-goal at the 6-yard line. However, the Eagles' defense stopped the Falcons on four straight plays to take over on downs in a scene reminiscent to last year's playoff triumph.

After an Eagles three-and-out, the Falcons went back on offense and used a tricky screen pass to running back Tevin Coleman to gain 26 yards and bring the ball back into the red zone. The Eagles' defense stood tall once again and held the Falcons to a 21-yard field goal from kicker Matt Bryant.

The Eagles and Falcons then traded drives of negative yardage and ended the first quarter with the score 3-0 in favor of Atlanta.

The Eagles drained the clock on their next drive, using 14 plays to go 54 yards in just over eight minutes.

The Eagles had a fresh set of downs in the red zone after a Falcons pass interference on third down. However, a holding call on the Eagles stifled the drive and forced a 26-yard Jake Elliott field goal to tie the game, 3-3 with 6:09 left in the first half.

The Falcons quickly moved into Eagles territory on their next drive, but the drive stalled when linebacker Jordan Hicks made his presence felt in his first regular-season game back from injury with a sack. But the 9-yard loss wasn't enough to push the Falcons out of field goal range as Bryant connected on a 52-yarder to put them back in front, 6-3, with 2:08 to go in the first half.

Philadelphia and Atlanta traded quick drives as the defenses became disruptive in the final two minutes. The Eagles took the ball at their own 13-yard line with 31 seconds left but had to kneel after a few unsuccessful plays.

The Eagles' offense couldn't find its rhythm to start the second half and punted after five plays. The Eagles' defense picked up where it left off and forced a three-and-out of the Falcons, highlighted by an intentional grounding call on Ryan after tremendous pressure.

The Eagles' next drive was special. On a third-and-5 at the Falcons' 41, Clement took a handoff from Foles, tossed it to Agholor on a reverse, and Agholor passed it to Foles for a 15-yard gain. The sequel of sorts to the Philly Special sparked the crowd and the Eagles' offense.

Five plays later, Ajayi punched in a 1-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a 10-6 lead with 4:37 left in the third.

The Eagles' defense took advantage of the momentum and forced another three-and-out, thanks to a third-down pass breakup by cornerback Ronald Darby while covering Jones. Two dropped passes by the Eagles then gave Atlanta another possession quickly.

The Eagles forced yet another three-and-out after impressive plays in the secondary. But during the ensuing punt, safety Tre Sullivan inadvertently touched the ball, resulting in the game's first turnover and an Atlanta possession at the Eagles' 32-yard line. The Falcons' drive took the game into the fourth quarter with the Eagles leading, 10-6.

Linebacker Nathan Gerry had a near-interception on the drive's first play. Cornerback Rasul Douglas made good on his interception opportunity when he stepped in front of a Ryan pass intended for Jones to give the Eagles the ball at their own 4-yard line.

Turnovers hurt the Eagles again on the next drive as a pass intended for tight Dallas Goedert was knocked out of the his hands and into the hands of Falcons linebacker Deion Jones for an interception. Two plays later, running back Tevin Coleman scored Atlanta's first touchdown from 9 yards out. Bryant missed the extra point to keep the score 12-10 with 9:48 left in the game.

Penalties and drops hurt the Eagles on their next drive and they were forced to punt after three plays and a loss of 10 yards.

The Eagles' defense continued the slugfest with an impressive three-and-out that included a 5-yard loss on a pass and an 8-yard sack-fumble by defensive end Chris Long that the Falcons recovered.

The Eagles took over at their own 46-yard line with 4:51 remaining and found their way into the end zone when it mattered most. Receptions and runs by Sproles, Clement, and Ajayi took the Eagles 54 yards in eight plays, capped off by a tough 11-yard run by Ajayi for his second touchdown of the game. Ajayi also ran in the two-point conversion to make it 18-12 with 2:19 to play.

The Falcons moved the ball quickly down the field thanks to a 36-yard pass to from Ryan to Jones that brought the Falcons to the Eagles' 33. Two more first-down receptions by Jones gave Atlanta a first-and-goal from the 10-yard line with 24 seconds left.

With eerie similarities to last season's playoff victory over the Falcons, the Eagles' defense denied three straight pass attempts by Ryan. On the fourth, a penalty on Hicks gave the Falcons a first-and-goal from the 5-yard line with one second left. On one last opportunity, Ryan threw a short fade to Jones who couldn't come down with the catch in bounds.

Time ran out and the Eagles began the season with a big win.

Take a look at all the photos from the Philadelphia Eagles' home opener against the Atlanta Falcons to kick off the 2018 season.

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