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The Eagles fell to 1-1 on the season after a wild 35-31 loss to the Falcons in Atlanta. However, the biggest loss the Eagles suffered might be that of QB Michael Vick. Vick was taken out of the game in the 3rd quarter after he collided helmets with Todd Herremans and could be seen spitting out blood as he walked off the field. The Eagles later said that that he had bit his tongue. The whole thing was really just bad luck as Vick wasn't even hit hard on the play, it's just unfortunate that he happened to hit Herremans in the helmet hard in the way down. After the game, Andy Reid confirmed that Vick had suffered a concussion, so obviously his status for next week against the Giants is in doubt.
As for how it finished, there's a few things you could point to as the main reason the Eagles lost tonight. Certainly the fumble as the Eagles were knocking on the door for a TD in the second quarter that ended up giving the Falcons the ball on the Eagles 20 and a TD of their own is up there. The Jeremy Maclin drop as Mike Kafka was leading the Eagles down for a possible game winning TD was bad... but the real killer had to be the red zone defense. The Eagles D allowed the Falcons into the red zone five times and gave up a TD every single time. That's just not acceptable.
The crazy thing is, it's hard to even understand how the defensive performance can vary so widely in one game. There were times tonight when the Eagles defense was dominating. They picked off Matt Ryan twice, sacked him four times and hit him hard countless other times. But on other drives, the Falcons would get chunks of yardage with ease. It seemed like it was either three and out or a TD. It's really hard to understand. Certainly the linebackers are an issue as they not only struggled to stop the right tonight, but let Tony Gonzalez go off for seven catches and two TDs. I thought Jamar Chaney particularly struggled.
But amazingly, all hope was not lost at the end as Mike Kafka drove the Eagles down the field with an impressive nine play, 69 yard drive that unfortunately ended with Jeremy Maclin dropping a perfect pass that would have given the Eagles first and goal with plenty of time left. It was especially rough to see Maclin with such a bad drop after the night he had setting a career high with 13 catches for 171 yards and two TDs. In three career games against the Falcons Maclin now has 24 catches for 413 yards and 4 TDs in three career games vs the Falcons.
The Eagles finally return home to host the Giants in the home opener next weekend. Obviously the headlines will be all about Michael Vick as he undergoes concussion tests to see if he will be cleared to play.
Michael Vick has been taken out of the game with what could be a concussion after smacking helmets with Eagles RT Todd Herremans. Vick was taken down after a throw fairly lightly, but on his way down he collided helmets with Todd Herremans and was very slow to get up. When he did, you could see him spitting up blood as he walked off the field and looked completely out of sorts on the sidelines. He could be seen clearly holding his head on the bench.
It was really just a bad luck kind of play. Vick wasn’t even hit hard and had his head up watching for what was happening after the pass. It was just incidental contact with Herremans, but it was violent. Vick has now been taken to the locker room for concussion tests. He looked a little better walking off than he did sitting on the bench, but is still clearly feeling the effects of the shot.
Vick’s exit made way for Mike Kafka, who handed off to LeSean McCoy for a TD to put the Eagles up 31-21 heading into the 4th quarter.
[Note by JasonB, 09/18/11 11:18 PM EDT ] The Eagles are now saying that Vick is out with a neck injury and that he bit his tongue. No word on a possible return.
[Note by JasonB, 09/19/11 12:05 AM EDT ] In his post game press conference Andy Reid confirmed that Vick suffered a concussion. So his status for next week is doubt.
The Falcons lead 14-10 at the half in a game so far marked by major mistakes where each team gave the other a TD. The Falcons got up early with a Matt Ryan 2 yard TD pass to Roddy White, who made a nifty catch to stay in bounds at the back of the end zone. The Falcons offense looked quite good, ran the ball and drove pretty easily. However, they would struggle for the rest of the half.
The Eagles offense did start moving however, but issues in the red zone would plauge them. On the drive after the Falcons first score, the Eagles drove straight down the field and on third down Michael Vick found DeSean Jackson open in the end zone for a TD... that Jackson dropped. Lucky for him, John Abraham was lined up in the neutral zone and the Eagles got first and goal from the five. Vick would find Jeremy Maclin wide open for his first TD of the year to even the game at seven. That was the Falcons mistake.
The Eagles offense would once again drive straight down to near the goal line, but failed to convert and settled for a FG. After another Falcons 3-and-out the Eagles once again drove straight down the field to the goal line, but Falcons DT Peria Jerry came unblocked on a fake sweep play and hit VIck before he could make a handoff. Vick fumbled and DE Ray Edwards picked up the ball and would have ran for a TD had it not been for DeSean Jackson, who chased him down at the 20 and saved the TD. Jackson's play would only delay the score however, as Matt Ryan would find Tony Gonzalez for an incredible TD catch at the back of the end zone where the future hall of famer nabbed the pass with one hand and just barely swiped his toes on the ground to stay in bounds. After a review, the TD was confirmed.
In the closing seconds, Vick would get stripped as the Eagles were attempting to potentially get into FG range. However, Atlanta QB Matt Ryan would get picked off by Nnamdi Asoumgha two plays later. The Eagles would get their shot at a FG from 63 yards, but rookie Alex Henery was short on what would have been an NFL record kick.
The Eagles have outgained the Falcons 222-98, yet trail 14-10 going into the third quarter.
The Eagles play their first primetime game of the season tonight at 8:20 on NBC Sunday Night Football. Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth get the call while the game can also be heard locally on the radio with Merrell Reese and Mike Quick on 94.1 FM and 610-AM. This will be the fourth straight year in which the Eagles and Falcons meet, with the Eagles riding a three game winning streak.
Of course the big story is the return of Michael Vick to Atlanta, where he last started a game in 2006 against the Carolina Panthers. Vick boasts a 23-12 record inthe Georgia Dome. While Vick's ties to Atlanta are well known, Matt Ryan's ties to Philadelphia aren't as widely publicized. Ryan grew up as an Eagles fan in Exton, PA and graduated from Penn Charter high school.
Should the Eagles win today they would move to 2-0 for just the second time in 18 seasons. The last time they opened up 2-0 was in 2004, when they went on to play in the Superbowl. Weirdly enough, the last time the Eagles played two straight games in a dome was in 1980, when they also ended up going to the Superbowl.
"We know how tough the Falcons are and what a good football team they are," Andy Reid said this week. "I think our guys have had a good week of preparation; we were able to work a little noise today, knowing that it's going to be a loud venue down there and our guys will be ready to go."
No doubt you've heard that Michael Vick will be making his first start in Atlanta since 1996 this week. ESPN might have mentioned it once it or twice... However, with all the talk about the emotions surrounding the game and his possible reception by the Falcons faithful, we might have lost the real issues surrounding the game. Namely, this is the second of back to back road games the Eagles will be playing, with both games in a noisy dome. Vick says that he thinks that helps.
"Yeah, I think it certainly helps the fact that we had some experience last week and had to open it up in a dome," said Vick. "So the crowd noise this week is just like a common thing for us now. You know, and it's really not going to be a factor. You know it's going to be loud in there and your concentration level has to be high."
According to Vick, the Eagles need to play fast and use their speed on the fast track in the dome to counter the aggressive Eagles defense.
"They're a very aggressive defense. I think they have strengths in all areas, you know, the pass rush, and the linebackers doing their job [and] they cover well in the secondary. So it's just going to be about us executing, you know, tempoing in and out of the huddle and using our speed to try and create advantages."
All that said, we can't ignore that there is something special here with Vick returning to Atlanta after once again becoming a starter and an All-Pro.
"Absolutely, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited." said Vick. "But you just have to be able to know that it's a game that we have to get taken care of. And I'm excited about it, though. It's going to be great to go back to the dome, but at the same time our emotions have to be under control and you just have to be a pro about everything."
The Eagles have ruled out defensive end Darryl Tapp for tonight’s game, which opens up an opportunity for Phillip Hunt to be active and make his NFL debut. The Eagles signed the CFL’s sack leader of a year ago and after an impressive preseason he’s excited to finally get his shot in the NFL.
"Oh yeah, most definitely," Hunt said. "The opportunity has presented itself and I have to make the most of it and make plays and do what I have to do to be a legitimate guy in this league."
Hunt was also asked whether he found it difficult to be sitting on the sidelines last week while the rest of the defensive line racked up sack after sack?
"No it wasn’t difficult, because my teammates, they’re my friends, too. So I like to see them do well. So when [DE Darryl] Tapp and everybody else, [DE Jason] Babin, was getting those sacks I was on the sideline cheering them on; even when [DE] Juqua [Parker] ran it for a touchdown, I was on the sidelines running along side him. So it was a great time last weekend. I look to implement a few of those things that they did last week."
Given how much the Eagles rotated their defensive line last week, Hunt is certainly going to get plenty of snaps. It will be interesting to see how his performance in the preseason translates to the real thing.
NFL Network heard from Eagles and Falcons players and reporters as they previewed this weekend's Sunday Night Football matchup.
When Steve Smith signed with the Eagles this offseason, the speculation was that it could be several weeks, maybe even months before he was ready to play. Smith had suffered a knee injury last December with the Giants and had microfracture surgery to repair it. So many were surprised when in week one, Smith was active and actually played. Unfortunately, he did not catch a pass, but Smith says he can contribute to this offense and will only learn more as he gets more reps.
"I definitely think I can contribute," Smith said. "We have so many weapons and it's hard to get everyone the ball, but the coaches have been doing a good job of getting me reps, and learn this offense which is key."
Smith, who joined the team late in the shortened free agency period, says the extra reps he's taken in practice have been helpful as he continues to learn the offense.
"I've been taking a lot of reps and I've gotten the offense down pretty well. It's different when you're in the huddle hearing it with [QB] Mike [Vick] and you have to get out there fast. So I think they've been very helpful."
Finally, while Smith said it just felt good to be on the field last week,now it's time to start producing.
"Oh yeah, definitely. They've embraced me here, and you know, just helped me so much. And I'm excited, just happy to be playing, and now it's time for me to get that catch."
The Atlanta Falcons made a a major investment in their offense in this year’s draft when they sent five draft picks to the Browns for the right to move up and take Alabama WR Julio Jones. Given that they had the fifth highest scoring offense in the NFL last season and already employ one of the best WRs in the game in Roddy White, the Falcon offense was looking scary coming into the season. Week one, however, ended up as a disaster. Atlanta was blown out by the Bears in a game where they did not score an offensive touchdown, turned the ball over three times and had Matt Ryan sacked five times.
Despite their awful start, Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo is still wary of the threat the Falcons pose, particularly future hall of fame TE Tony Gonzalez, who needs just five catches to pass Terrell Owens for 6th place on the all time receptions list.
“Well, he’s a great player.” said Castillo. “I remember I was coaching tight ends when Tony came out [of college]. And you know, he’s a Hispanic, too. So I know Tony, but there are different ways that people have dealt with him whether it’s double covering him, you know, but just making sure that you have a couple people on him.”
Castillo even hinted that there was a chance they would assign Nnamdi Asomugha to cover Gonzalez on certain plays.
Also always a threat is the Falcons ability to run the ball with Michael Turner. Castillo was asked this week if the Eagles, who played a lot of nickel last week, would stick to their base defense more on Sunday night to defend against the threat of the run.
“It just depends on how we get going. You know what it is is people try to match up personnel. Now sometimes, we’ll play base versus, really versus anything, down and distance, or sometimes we’ll try to match it up. The thing is you want to be able to dictate, you know you don’t want the offense to dictate, too. So we want to be able to play base versus anything that they have and we’re capable of doing that.”
Michael Vick’s return to Atlanta for the first time as a starter is certainly generating a lot of interest from media and fans, and it appears that Vegas is looking to cash in. Sports books have laid out a number of interesting prop bets related to Vick this weekend. Let’s check out a few courtesy of Bodog, while also not missing the irony of the whole thing given that Michael Vick is no longer in Atlanta thanks to his involvement with an illegal gambling operation centered around dogfighting…
Michael Vick – Total Passing Yards Week 2
Michael Vick – Total Rushing Yards Week 2
Michael Vick – Total TD Passes Week 2
Over 1½ (-150)
Under 1½ (+120)
Michael Vick – Total Interceptions Week 2
Over ½ (-150)
Under ½ (+120)
Michael Vick – Will he rush for a TD in the game?
How many times will Michael Vick be shown in a Falcons uniform during the live Broadcast of the Eagles/Falcons game Week 2?
Over 1½ (-150)
Under 1½ (+110)
How many times will Michael Vick’s $100,000,000 contract be mentioned during the live Broadcast of the Eagles/Falcons game Week 2?
Over 1½ (+150)
Under 1½ (-200)
I gotta say, the over on both of those last two is tempting. It’s a given that both will happen at least one right at the top of the broadcast, so you only need to Sunday Night Football crew, who always goes super in depth into everything, to talk about the contract or show Vick as a Falcon one more time to cash in. Seems pretty likely. At least a lot moreso than if it were just a normal Sunday afternoon game.
The Eagles travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons this weekend on Sunday Night Football
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