It's the story of the Eagles' season to date: the ability to step up following key injuries to important players. Today, the victim was DeSean Jackson, who suffered a concussion following a brutal, and illegal, hit by Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson in the second quarter. At the time, Jackson had already scored two touchdowns, one on a 31-yard run and one on a 34-yard reception.
So who stepped up in Jackson's absence? That would be second-year receiver Jeremy Maclin, who notched his fifth and sixth touchdowns on a day in which he set career-highs in receptions (7), yards (159) and longest play (an 83-yard score, his second of the day).
"When you lose any guy on your offense, no matter whoever's out there, everybody has to elevate their game," Maclin said following the game, "especially if it's a dynamic guy like (DeSean). Everybody has to pick up their game and we have playmakers all around our offense and today was just a day where I was able to score two touchdowns."
Maclin's first touchdown came on a third-and-7 from the Falcons' 8-yard-line, when he got a step outside on the cornerback and Kevin Kolb delivered a picture-perfect pass where only Maclin could make a play on the ball. Maclin dove, snagged the ball before it hit the ground and maintained possession while the nose of the ball was barely over the pay-dirt plane. The score gave the Eagles what would prove to be an insurmountable 21-0 lead.
"It was just a good ball," Maclin said. "Basically, he put the ball in the only spot where either I was going to get to it or it was going to be incomplete. He put the ball in a great spot and I just layed out there to go get it."
Maclin's next big play, the biggest of the day, came immediately following a Falcons field goal that cut the lead to 21-10. On the second play of the drive, following a three-yard loss, Kolb faked a reverse handoff to wide receiver Jason Avant. Both the cornerback and safety bit on the fake and Maclin was left free to streak up the left sideline, where Kolb hit him in stride, allowing Maclin to run unmolested into the end-zone, giving the Eagles a 28-10 lead.
"I think it was huge. They had just scored and we wanted to stop the bleeding a little bit," Maclin said of the play. "It was a good sell by everybody, including Kevin from the receivers to the line. We kind of caught them sleeping a little bit and I was down the sideline."
"I thought (offensive coordinator) Marty (Mornhinweg) did an unbelievable job of dialing things up at the right time and that was one of them," said Kolb.
Despite being occasionally overlooked in an offense that features Jackson and draft classmate LeSean McCoy, Maclin is proving to be more than just a key cog in the offense. His six touchdowns on the season, also a career-high, lead the team, as do his 416 receiving yards. Just like the Eagles have an enviable dilemma at the quarterback position with two top-notch signal-callers, they have a "good problem" when it comes to spreading the ball to a multitude of weapons. For Maclin though, the most important stat line of the day is 4-2, the Eagles' record.
"I just want to be accountable to my team," Maclin said. "That's all I can do. I just want to help this team win. It wouldn't have mattered if I had gone out there and caught two balls for 5 yards as long as we get the 'W.' I'm pretty satisfied in what's going on."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 6:13 p.m., October 17