Falcons beat Eagles to remain NFL's only unbeaten team

Kevin Noonan, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA - The Atlanta Falcons had to work too hard and too long for some of their earlier victories, and they didn't want the same thing to happen again. So they scored early and often and rolled to a 30-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at rainy, windy Lincoln Financial Field to remain the NFL's only undefeated team.
The Eagles had changed defensive coordinators during their bye week, but the switch from Juan Castillo to Todd Bowles didn't seem to help as the Falcons (7-0) scored touchdowns on their first three possessions and kicked field goals on their next three, and that was too much for the Eagles (3-4).
"We knew getting off to a good start was important because of the quality of the team we were playing and because of the weather,'' Falcons running back Michael Turner said. "You don't want to have to play catch-up when it's raining and windy and you have to fight the elements as well as the other team. We jumped on them and we stayed on them."
Atlanta took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards for a touchdown in 16 plays. They scored on a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Ryan to wide receiver Drew Davis, who was wide open in the end zone to give the Falcons a 7-0 lead.
After the Eagles' offense went three-plays-and-out - losing four yards along the way - the Falcons' offense was on the move again. Atlanta took over on its own 49 and drove to the Eagles' 3, where Ryan flipped a screen pass to running back Jason Snelling, who bulled his way into the end zone for a 14-0 lead.
The Falcons took advantage of the Eagles' aggressive pass rush with screens and draw plays all day, and Ryan gave offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter credit for that.
"That was huge,'' Ryan said. "Their pass rush is about as good as it gets. Dirk had a great game plan coming in, and we were able to take advantage of it."
The Eagles' offense finally got on track as they drove 66 yards in 13 plays for a TD that was set up by rookie running back Bryce Brown, who fought for extra yardage and a first down to Atlanta's 2-yard line. On the next play, running back LeSean McCoy beat the defense to the corner, and his TD made it 14-7 with 8:18 left in the second quarter.
But it didn't stay that way for long. On the Falcons' next possession, wide receiver Julio Jones blew past cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha on a long sideline pattern, caught Ryan's perfect pass on the Eagles' 35 and raced into the end zone to complete the 63-yard touchdown play and give Atlanta a 21-7 lead.
"He just created separation and got it,'' Asomugha said. "It was nothing special or anything particular that happened. He just got it."
The Falcons added a 43-yard field goal by Matt Bryant to end the second quarter, and the Eagles added a 33-yard field goal by Alex Henery to start the third quarter. That made it 24-10 with 11:20 left in the period.
But two more field goals by Bryant and McCoy's second TD made it 30-17 before the Falcons ran out the clock on their seventh victory of the season.
"Coming off our bye week, our goal was to come out and play fast in all three phases of the game,'' Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "And I thought we got that job done."
And the Eagles, who fell two games behind the New York Giants in NFC East, look to bounce back before it's too late.
"I just tell my guys to keep fighting,'' Eagles quarterback Michael Vick said. "Keep fighting and don't let it spiral out of control. But you can only say so much, and at times I just get tired of talking. It's about letting your actions speak louder than your words."
NOTES: Atlanta coach Mike Smith moved past Dan Reeves as the Falcons coach with the most career victories. Smith is now 50-21 and Reeves was 49-59-1 from 1997-2003. ... This was the first time Eagles coach Andy Reid has ever lost after a bye week - his Eagles had been 13-0. ... Eagles rookie Dennis Kelly played in his first NFL game, starting at right guard in place of injured Danny Watkins (ankle). Kelly was a fifth-round pick out of Purdue, where he started at tackle for three years. ... The Falcons played without No. 3 WR Harry Douglas (knee, ankle), who has 16 catches for 149 yards, including a season-high five catches for 37 yards in the Falcons' last game vs. Atlanta. ... The Eagles recorded their first sack in 41/2 games and 154 pass attempts against them. Defensive tackle Cedric Thornton took the honors.

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