Philadelphia Eagles News

Goal-Line Stand Part Of Great Effort By D

ATLANTA -- With the Eagles holding a 13-0 lead, the Falcons were positioned to draw within a touchdown late in the first half.

An unnecessary roughness penalty on Sean Jones gave the Falcons a first-and-goal at the Eagles' 7. Jason Snelling gained 6 yards up the middle before being wrapped up by Jeremiah Trotter.

However, Snelling had little success on his next three carries as the Eagles' defense held for a critical goal-line stand.

"It was big. At that time we had 13 points on the board. If they score, it's 13-7 and it's a whole different ballgame," said defensive end Darren Howard. "The outcome of the game could have been totally different if they score and get some confidence right there. It was big for us. We haven't had a goal-line stand like that in a while, and when we used to do that consistently, we took a lot of pride in it."

Atlanta took a page from the Eagles' playbook and utilized the Wildcat on second down with Snelling taking the direct snap. Again, he tried the middle but was met by linebacker Will Witherspoon and defensive tackle Mike Patterson. No gain on the play.

Snelling tried the middle again on third down and was dropped for a 1-yard loss by Antonio Dixon.

"We ran a couple of blitzes where we were showing outside and they thought they could run inside, but Trot came up and made some big plays. Witherspoon came up and made some big plays in space inside on the running back," Howard said.

The Falcons opted to go for it on fourth down, this time needing 2 yards for a touchdown. But Snelling could only manage 1 yard thanks in part to safety Quintin Mikell.

"That was definitely huge. Defense came up big," said tight end Brent Celek. "I just had the feeling when they were out there that they were going to do it and they ended it up doing it."

The momentum from that defensive stand certainly carried over into the second half as the Eagles scored three touchdowns, including one on the opening drive of the second half and another on Sheldon Brown's 83-yard interception return, to put the game out of reach.

With the Eagles leading 20-0, Brown intercepted a Chris Redman pass for his career-high fifth interception and returned it a career-long 83 yards. Former Georgia Bulldog Sean Jones added an interception of his own.

"I was in the right place at the right time. I read the coverage and the QB didn't see me," Brown said. "I was just happy to be in position to make the pick."

Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott got contributions from just about everyone as his defense dominated much of the game. At one point in the first half, the Eagles had racked up 255 total yards, while the Falcons had just 55 yards.

While they managed just a pair of sacks on Redman, the front four pressured and forced him to hurry some throws. Howard and Juqua Parker each registered a sack. Howard also got his hand on a pair of passes at the line of scrimmage, as did several other linemen.

Atlanta's vaunted running game, which was so good a year ago, really struggled without Michael Turner, who was sidelined with an ankle sprain. Philadelphia did not allow Jerious Norwood or Jason Snelling to get into a rhythm as Atlanta finished the game with 61 yards rushing (2.8 avg. yards per carry).

In the pass game, Roddy White went over 100 yards receiving, including a touchdown as time expired. All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez caught eight of 13 balls thrown his way and converted a pair of fourth-down conversions.

-- Posted by Bob Kent, 4:15 p.m., December 6

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