ATLANTA – The Red Zone was not kind to the Eagles on Sunday night. Atlanta scored touchdowns on all five trips inside the Philadelphia 20-yard line, while the Eagles managed just 3 touchdowns in 5 trips. The other two times they scored three points on an Alex Henery field goal and turned the ball over when quarterback Michael Vick was hit from behind and the ball popped loose from his grasp. Atlanta's Ray Edwards recovered the fumble and returned it 64 yards to Philadelphia's 24-yard line to start a touchdown drive.
The defensive performance was alarming in light of last season's troubles. The Eagles figured they solved the red-zone woes with a new defensive coordinator, Juan Castillo, and a new cast of very talented players throughout the defense.
But Atlanta's Matt Ryan set a career mark with four touchdown passes and the Eagles faltered defensively where it mattered most.
"It's very disappointing, because you can turn a game around down there," said linebacker Moise Fokou. "We didn't do our jobs. We had a chance to take control of the game and we didn't do it – not in the red zone and not in the fourth quarter.
"I think we have to go back to the drawing board and learn from this. What kind of defense do we want to be? We had a chance to make a name for ourselves and we didn't do it."
TOUGH TIMES WITH TIGHT END ... AGAIN
Veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez was a defense-killer with 7 catches for 83 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Strong-side linebacker Jamar Chaney had coverage on Gonzalez quite a bit of the time and was beaten for one of the scores when Gonzalez made a fantastic one-handed grab in the back of the end zone with Chaney all over him. Gonzalez beat safety Jarrad Page on the other touchdown.
It was a familiar sight against the Eagles defense, something they have had trouble with over the years: Tight ends have proven very difficult to contain.
"He isn't the fastest tight end in the league but he knows how to get open and I think he might have the best hands of any tight end out there," said Chaney. "He got us a few times. We need to shut that down."
KICKING GAME OVERVIEW
Punter Chas Henry had a fine game, averaging 44.8 yards gross on 4 punts, with two kicks inside the 20-yard line and one touchdown. The net average of 35.0 must improve as the Eagles allowed dangerous return man Eric Weems to have a 19-yard return.
Placekicker Alex Henery converted all 4 of his PATs and nailed a 22-yard field goal. He was well short on a 63-yard attempt at the end of the first half.
DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin split duties in the punt-return game. Maclin had a pair of fair catches while Jackson had 6 yards on 3 returns, including an 8-yarder in the final seconds of the game as visions of last December's Giants game danced in Eagles' fans heads.
Dion Lewis had a 60-yard kickoff return to Atlanta's 43-yard line wiped out by a Colt Anderson holding penalty.
DEFENSE CONTINUES SACK PRODUCTION
The defensive line had some dominating moments in the loss. The group racked up 4 quarterback sacks and has 9 in two games. Right end Trent Cole was spectacular with 6 tackles, a sack, 4 tackles for loss and 2 quarterback hurries. Tackle Cullen Jenkins had 4 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss and a pair of quarterback hurries. End Jason Babin chipped in with the other sack.
THIS AND THAT
- The Eagles used some trickery to give the Falcons something to think about early, lining Maclin up to take a direct snap on their second play from scrimmage. Maclin then handed off to LeSean McCoy, who pitched to quarterback Michael Vick, who had lined up on the right side of the formation as a wide receiver. Vick ended up running for 7 yards on the play.
- Maclin had a remarkable performance. He was a target 15 times and caught 13 passes for 171 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
- Steve Smith had his first receptions as an Eagle, adding 2 catches for 29 yards to the offensive cause.
- The Eagles had more first downs (27 to 20), more total offensive yards (447 yards to 318 yards), a higher average gain per offensive play (6.7 yards to 5.2 yards) and they won the time of possession battle (30:03 to 29:57). But they gave the football away 3 times to Atlanta's 2, and that was the difference in the game.
- Middle linebacker Casey Matthews was more effective for much of the game, contributing 7 total tackles defensively. "I felt good out there, but it's a team thing. We didn't finish the game off the way we needed to, and that what bothers me," he said.
- Defensive end Phillip Hunt played a handful of snaps in place of Cole at right defensive end.
- In addition to Vick's concussion, defensive end Juqua Parker left the game with a sprained ankle. Those were the only injuries reported after the loss.