If this was a potential statement game for the Philadelphia Eagles, that statement was delivered loud and clear.
Head coach Andy Reid called it a complete team effort, and the stats don't lie. The Eagles scored 31 points with a consistent and effective offense, and held Atlanta running back Michael Turner to 45 yards rushing on 15 carries while applying constant pressure to quarterback Matt Ryan. Even the special teams produced this afternoon. They held Atlanta to an average starting field position of their own 22-yard line, and returner Jorrick Calvin had a career-long 44-yard punt return.
But the story of the afternoon was quarterback Kevin Kolb and his second consecutive win against a quality defense. Reid summarized it succinctly when he said, "Kevin had a big day."
Big day is right.
The fourth-year quarterback had 326 yards passing while completing 23 of his 29 attempts, and threw three touchdowns against one interception. His quarterback rating of 133.6 was a career high, as was his completion percentage (79.3 percent) and his three touchdowns. And just for kicks, he threw a career-long 83-yard pass to Jeremy Maclin in the third quarter.
"I never lacked confidence because although people don't see it," Kolb said after the game, "in training camp, practices and, of course, the couple of games that I've played in, there are just certain things that click and you say 'OK, the game has slowed down a lot. I saw that perfectly."
The Eagles offense struck a balance today that any NFL offense would envy - 29 passes and 38 runs. Such a solid rushing attack controls the clock, and a quick-strike passing game provides the big hits. Reid used the pass to set up the run, and credits an early lead for allowing the team to attack on the ground.
"We threw it early, we got some good shots on them early, and I thought that was a positive," Reid said. "And then we mixed up the run game in there. I thought LeSean (McCoy) ran hard and aggressive, he had some good plays for us … it was a good balance."
Not to be outdone, the Eagles defense was dominant. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked three times, and pressured countless others, while All-Pro running back Michael Turner was rendered ineffective. The Eagles held Turner to 3.0 yards per carry and no touchdowns, once again proving they can shut down a Pro Bowl running back in his prime.
"You get into those situations and it's a team effort there," Reid said. "If you're going to stop the run it's not one guy. You can say that about a sack, but you can't say that about the running game. Everybody has to rally to the football. I thought it was a complete team challenge for our defense and they rose to it."
And now at 4-2, no other NFC team will enter Week 7 with more wins than the Eagles.
-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 6:55 p.m., October 17