During the Eagles' annual Salute to Service game against the Falcons on Sunday afternoon, the team broke its two-game losing streak and came away with the 24-15 win. The victory also means Philadelphia is still unbeaten at Lincoln Financial Field in 2016 with a 4-0 record. Here's a recap of how the game played out.
Key Defensive Stops Help Win The Game
With 2:24 left in the game, the Eagles' defense needed to come up with a critical stop. The Falcons, down by six points, decided to go for it on fourth-and-5 from their own 40. Quarterback Matt Ryan looked to Julio Jones and threw the ball, but the pass fell incomplete and the Philadelphia defense got the ball back into the hands of its offense.
The Eagles went on to add a field goal on that possession, making the score 24-15 with two minutes remaining. When Atlanta got the ball back, Ryan again tried to pass to Jones but Leodis McKelvin came up with the interception. That turnover sealed the Eagles victory.
The Falcons entered the game with the league's top-ranked scoring offense. The 15-point output was the lowest of the season for Atlanta. Quarterback Matt Ryan was 18-of-33 for 267 yards with a touchdown and the interception. Ryan's 78.7 passer rating was his worst of the year.
Eagles' Offense Starts Fast
After a defensive stop to begin the game, the Philadelphia offense took the field at its own 19 and got to work quickly with a balanced attack. Quarterback Carson Wentz, who was 4-of-4 for 47 yards on the team's first drive, connected with Jordan Matthews on two passes for 26 yards in the first six plays alone, while Ryan Mathews was able to get the run game started with 34 rushing yards on seven carries. The 12-play drive concluded when the running back found the end zone on a 4-yard run with 4:17 left in the first quarter to put the team up 7-0.
Wentz finished 25-of-36 for 231 yards with a passer rating of 86.7. Ryan Mathews gained 109 yards and scored two touchdowns. Wendell Smallwood gained 70 yards rushing on 13 carries. Darren Sproles led the team with eight catches, while Jordan Matthews had six grabs for a team-high 73 yards. Tight end Zach Ertz had a second straight strong performance with six catches for 55 yards.
Defense Holds Atlanta To Field Goals
After holding Atlanta scoreless in the first quarter, the Eagles' defense continued its strong showing during the Falcons' first possession of the second quarter. Philadelphia gave up a big play as Ryan found Jones down the field for a 29-yard gain to move the team to the Eagles' 26. However from there, the defense didn't let up and held the Falcons to a field goal. Atlanta's 38-yard attempt was successful, but the Eagles maintained a 7-3 lead with 9:40 to play in the half.
The Eagles were at it again on the Falcons' next drive, once again holding Atlanta to a field goal. The Falcons moved their way up to the Philadelphia 17, but wouldn't get any closer to the end zone. On first-and-10, Malcolm Jenkins tackled running back Devonta Freeman for a loss of 2 yards and on the following play, Connor Barwin was able to sack Ryan for a loss of 6 yards. Atlanta's second successful field goal made the score 7-6, with the Eagles still ahead and under three minutes to play before halftime.
Kicker Matt Bryant added a third field goal with 4:50 to go in third quarter, making the score 10-9.
Ryan Mathews Hits 100
As the third quarter came to a close, Mathews hit 100 rushing yards for the first time this season with a 5-yard run to the Atlanta 2-yard line. That specific drive resulted in a field goal that put the Eagles up, 13-9. On the afternoon, the running back picked up 109 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns.
Taylor Gabriel Makes Eagles Pay
Shortly after the Eagles tacked on their second field goal of the afternoon, the Falcons' offense had their most explosive play yet. With 13:25 on the clock in the fourth quarter, Ryan took a shot down the field, throwing to a wide open Taylor Gabriel. The wide receiver caught the pass and ran it into the end zone for 76 yards and a touchdown, which gave Atlanta its first lead of the game. The score also marked the first touchdown given up by the Eagles' defense on the afternoon. However, Atlanta's kicker missed the extra point, making the score, 15-13.
Birds Retake The Lead, Go For Two
Down by two points, the Eagles' offense got the ball back with 10:25 on the clock at its own 24. The group worked its way into Falcons territory and on second-and-3 from the Atlanta 26, Wentz threw to Matthews. The wide receiver was unable to make the grab, but the refs called defensive pass interference, which moved the Eagles to the 5-yard line. The very next play, Mathews ran the ball into the end zone for six. The team then elected to go for the two-point conversion. On the first attempt, the Falcons were called for defensive holding. The Eagles then gave the ball to Mathews on the second try and the running back was able to pick up the two additional points. After the score, the Eagles led Atlanta, 21-15.
Sturgis Tacks On Three More
After missing a 44-yard field goal in the second quarter, Caleb Sturgis added three points to the Eagles' score with a successful 29-yard kick in the third quarter. The team started the second half with the ball and moved 70 yards in 13 plays. The Sturgis field goal gave the Eagles a 10-6 lead.
Eagles Commit First Turnover
The team made its first big mistake just prior to halftime, but luckily it was not as costly as it could have been. Wentz was sacked by linebacker Vic Beasley Jr. and fumbled the ball. Atlanta recovered the fumble and took over from the Philadelphia 42, after a 10-yard return. However, the Eagles' defense once again held the Falcons to a field goal attempt. This time, Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant missed the 53-yarder and Philadelphia took over with 25 seconds to play in the second quarter. As the half came to a close, the Eagles still led, 7-6.
Cornerback Nolan Carroll was ruled out in the third quarter with a concussion suffered at the end of the first half.
The Eagles added another victory to their record at home against the Atlanta Falcons during Salute to Service month. Check out the best shots.