ATLANTA -- Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin had a career game Sunday night, but it doesn't matter to him.
Despite hauling in 13 catches for 171 yards and scoring two touchdowns, Maclin will want the one ball that he didn't get in the game. Down 35-31 with 1:41 remaining, Maclin was targeted over middle on fourth-and-4 by quarterback Mike Kafka, who came off the bench for the injured Michael Vick.
The ball wasn't a perfect one, but nonetheless it caromed off his chest and hands and fell to the ground as the Eagles came up short in their hope for a come-from-behind win.
"I'm better than that," Maclin said. "It was a very catchable ball. It was off my body a little bit, but I still have to catch that ball."
While Maclin knows he should have come up with the play, he believes the Eagles should have put the game away well before it came down to that drive.
"We're better than that team. Period," Maclin said. "We know the game shouldn't have even come down to that. ... It's not a good feeling, but we'll go back, watch the film and learn from it."
After not playing all preseason due to an illness, Maclin had a quiet one catch for 20 yards against the Rams in his hometown of St. Louis last week. Maclin was very confident all week that he was fully healthy and primed for a breakout game.
And, boy, did he have one.
Maclin's first touchdown tied the game early in the second quarter at 7-7. It was a 5-yard touchdown reception from Vick where he lined up off-tackle to the left side. DeSean Jackson went in motion to Maclin's side and drew double coverage off the snap. Maclin crossed the field and was wide open. It was Maclin's eighth red zone touchdown since the start of the 2010 season.
In the third quarter, Maclin helped the Eagles erase a 21-10 deficit as he caught a bubble screen to the left side and took it 36 yards to the house. It was Maclin's fifth multi-touchdown game of his career.
"None of that really matters if we don't come up with the 'w,'" Maclin said.
Maclin drew the ire of the Falcons defenders to the point where cornerback Dunta Robinson tried to literally take his head off on a catch midway through the third quarter. Robinson was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit. If you remember, Robinson gave Jackson a concussion with a helmet-to-helmet hit in the Eagles-Falcons game in Philadelphia last season.
"He's two for two now," Maclin said. "Fortunately it wasn't as bad as (DeSean Jackson's) Was."
It was an emotionally charged game that had the aura of a playoff game even though it was just Week 2. Of course, Vick's return to Atlanta fueled some of the energy. But when Vick was injured late in the third quarter, Maclin was one of the players who stepped up.
"I felt for him. This was a big game for him and he wanted to make a statement, but unforunately things happened the way they did but we wanted to go out there and win it for him and we came up short," Maclin said.
With Kafka, Maclin was targeted six times and caught five of those balls for 63 yards including a 43-yard strike that was the longest offensive play of the game for the Eagles that got the offense within striking distance after the Falcons took the lead. But the one time the two didn't connect was that fourth down.
And despite his otherwise marvelous performance, it will be that one play that will weigh on him the most as the Eagles prepare for their first NFC East showdown next week against the Giants.
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