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Eagles vs. Falcons: The Grades


In a near-perfect effort, the Eagles took apart the Atlanta Falcons, 34-7, becoming just the first NFC team to beat the Falcons at the Georgia Dome in almost two years.

Atlanta was 5-0 at home this year, 12-1 over the past two years and had not lost to a conference foe since New Orleans  beat them in December of 2007.

The Eagles took them apart every way imaginable, making quarterback Chris Redman, who filled in for an injured Matt Ryan, wish he was back selling insurance.

Here’s a breakdown of just what the Eagles did.

PASSING OFFENSE – Quarterback Donovan McNabb was even better than his 101.8 rating might suggest. McNabb was 14-for-25 for 238 yards and a touchdown in just three quarters of work. McNabb also had three passes dropped and had a touchdown pass called back for a penalty on guard Max Jean-Gilles. McNabb found Jason Avant early on third down and long, and Reggie Brown later on a third-and-long. One of the bad throws McNabb had was on a crossing route to rookie Jeremy Maclin, in which he threw behind him incomplete. He went right back to that on the next possession, led Maclin and it turned into a 56-yard gain.

Michael Vick, in his old house, completed both passes he threw, a 43-yard pass to Brown and a five-yard touchdown to tight end Brent Celek, his first touchdown pass as an Eagle.

Grade: A

RUSHING OFFENSE – There is a noticeable difference when left tackle Jason Peters goes out with what seems like an injury every other week. Todd Herremans is much better at left guard than he is at left tackle, and Jean-Gilles, the replacement at guard, just isn’t very good, period.

The Falcons 23rd ranked run defense actually did a decent job at the point of attack and took rookie LeSean McCoy  (six carries, two yards) out of the game. Fullback Leonard Weaver rambled for 37 yards on just five carries and the Eagles did manage 103 yards on 26 tries.

Vick also showed what he could do in the red zone with a five-yard touchdown run that made it 27-0.

Grade: C+

PASSING DEFENSE – Redman finished 23 for 44 for 235 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown for a rating of 56.5, but he wasn’t even that good. Most of his work came in garbage time at the end of the game, and his touchdown pass came on a deflection on the final play of the game to avoid the Falcons first home shutout in 21 years.

Four times the Eagles batted down Redman’s passes at the line and they could have had another three, or four, interceptions as well.

Roddy White had some success getting behind Sheldon Brown, who is still bothered by a hamstring injury. But Brown made Redman pay when he read a out route perfectly stepped in front of it, intercepted and returned it 83 yards for a touchdown. That’s Brown’s fifth interception of the season and the Eagles third defensive touchdown.

Grade: A

RUSHING DEFENSEAtlanta was without its top back Michael Turner and two starting offensive linemen, so the Eagles should have dominated here.

And they did.

Atlanta ran it 22 times, just four less times than the Eagles, and gained just 61 yards. The Eagles just did not budge up front. And were sure tacklers all day.

The most impressive series of the day came just before the end of the first half when two penalties gave the Falcons 1st-and-goal at the 7 yardline. Atlanta ran in down to the 1 on first down, but never got it in the end zone. Three runs from the 1, all between the tackles failed to get an inch, as the Eagles stopped them all four times.

Mike Patterson and Will Witherspoon stopped Snelling on second down; big Antonio Dixon stuffed him on third; and safety Quintin Mikell came up and made the play on fourth.

Grade: A

SPECIAL TEAMS: This much-maligned unit might have had its most productive day of the season.

Maclin’s career-best 27-yard punt return set up the Eagles first field goal of the day and a 3-0 lead. Maclin showed good moves on the return and if he could have beat the punter might have been gone.

Tracy White then recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff that led to the Eagles first touchdown of the game and an early 10-0 lead.

Sav Rocca had the third of his three punts downed at the 1 yardline by Dimitri Patterson.

David Akers made his 17th straight field goal attempt, before seeing his streak snapped with a miss from 39 yards out, then started a new streak of one.

Grade: A-


thumbnail: John Bazemore / AP Photo