GAME STORY: Falcons 35, Eagles 31; Vick injured

Actor Samuel L. Jackson performs "Rise Up" to open the game against the Eagles. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Actor Samuel L. Jackson performs "Rise Up" to open the game against the Eagles. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Michael Turner, left, celebrates his game winning touchdown with Roddy White, right, for a 35-31 victory over the Eagles during 2nd half action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Michael Turner, left, celebrates his game winning touchdown with Roddy White, right, for a 35-31 victory over the Eagles during 2nd half action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

The Falcons pulled out all the stops against Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night at the Georgia Dome.

They revamped the defense, passed out white flags and even brought in actor Samuel L. Jackson to whip  the crowd into a euphoric frenzy as he told them to “Rise up.”

Quarterback Matt Ryan, tight end Tony Gonzalez and running back Michael Turner heard the pleas and helped to lead the Falcons to a 35-31 victory before a nationally-televised Sunday night audience.

Part of the battle for Ryan was not to get caught up in the hype over Vick’s return to Atlanta as a starting quarterback.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for our guys in the locker room for handling everything the right way and focusing the entire week,” Ryan said.

It was a brutal and hard-hitting affair with Vick and Ryan spending an ample amount of time down on the Georgia Dome turf.

Vick, the former signal-caller for the Falcons who has rebuilt his career after serving time in federal prison for dog-fighting related charges, left the game in the third quarter with a concussion. He was wrestled to the ground by Falcons safety William Moore. Vick He was roundly booed

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick picks up 6 yards on a quarterback keeper as he is flushed from the pocket by Falcons defensive end John Abraham during 1st half action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick picks up 6 yards on a quarterback keeper as he is flushed from the pocket by Falcons defensive end John Abraham during 1st half action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

by the fans as he pointed to scoreboard, which showed a 31-21 Philadelphia lead at the time.

“When he goes out that changes the dynamic of what they are trying to do as an offense,” Gonzalez said. “We said it on the sideline, if he’s not in there they are going to struggle a little bit.”

Ryan, who struggled for most of the game, got hot in the no-huddle attack and Turner broke loose for a key 61-yard run.

“We didn’t want to fall to 0-2,” Turner said.

Ryan led the Falcons on two 80-yard touchdown drives in the fourth quarter.

“We needed to score on each possession because it was now or never,” Gonzalez said. “We switched things up, went to the no-huddle offense and were able to get them on their heels.”

Gonzalez was simply dazzling as he had seven catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns. Turner finished with 114 yards on 21 carries. He put the Falcons ahead for good with a 3-yard touchdown run with 4:48 left in the game.

Ryan threw a career-high four touchdown passes as the Falcons (1-1) bounced back from a season-opening loss. The Eagles dropped to 1-1.

A revamped Atlanta defensive unit, which opened with James Sanders at free safety for Thomas DeCoud and Kelvin Hayden at nickel back for Christopher Owens, started out strong and stopped the Eagles on the first two possessions.

Falcons punt returner Eric Weems next broke loose for a 19-yard runback, setting up the offense at Philadelphia’s 38-yard line and leading to a quick opening score. Ryan threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White for a 7-0 lead, capping a seven-play drive.

The Eagles responded by mixing in quick-hitting run plays to move down the field. The Falcons appeared to have the Eagles stopped, but defensive end John Abraham was offside after a Vick pass fell incomplete on third down. The Eagles likely would have settled for a field goal, but the penalty gave them a first down.

Two plays later, Philadelphia scored when Vick found Jeremy Maclin wide open on a crossing route for a 4-yard touchdown to tie it up at 7-7

The Eagles next found holes in the Falcons’ zone defense. On a third-and-6 from the 41, Vick connected with Jason Avant for a 29-yard gain with Sanders in coverage.

“It felt good to get out there with the guys, but I personally have a lot of work to do,” Sanders said. “That was my first extended action on the field this entire season. I only played one quarter in the preseason.”

The defense held the Eagles to a field goal after middle linebacker Curtis Lofton deflected a pass in the end zone. Philadelphia’s Alex Henery kicked a 22-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead with 6:46 left in the second quarter.

The Eagles later drove from their 30 to the Falcons’ 4-yard line, ready to pad their lead. On first-and-goal, defensive tackle Peria Jerry pummeled Vick while he was trying to pitch the ball and it came loose. Defensive end Ray Edwards scooped up the fumble and rumbled for 64 yards before he was caught from behind by the Philly’s fleet DeSean Jackson.

“I was trying to score,” Edwards said. “My God father and my daughter are back there in the family room and they are ready to give me some grief about getting caught.”

The Falcons had first-and-10 from the Eagles 24. After a 13-yard pass to Gonzalez, a 5-yard run by Jacquizz Rodgers’ 5-yard run and Turner’s 2-yard run, Gonzalez made a spectacular one-handed touchdown grab in the back of the end zone over linebacker Jamar Chaney, reclaiming a 14-10 Atlanta lead.

The half ended after an exchange of turnovers, Vick fumbling again and Ryan throwing an interception.

Opening the second half, the Falcons couldn’t move the ball and punted. From his 40, Vick was chased by Sanders and threw an interception to Hayden. Taking advantage, the Falcons struck quickly with a 32-yard pass to Michael Turner and a 17-yard touchdown pass to Gonzalez to make it 21-10.

However, the Eagles regrouped and regained the lead with two of their trademark quick-strike drives, the second after another Ryan interception.

Philadelphia’s 70-yard drive took just 1:56 off the clock, with Maclin scoring on a 36-yard screen play to pull the Eagles within 21-17.

The visitors weren’t done either. After Asante Samuel picked off a Ryan pass intended for Julio Jones, the Eagles’ LeSean McCoy scored on an 8-yard run to put his team ahead 24-21.

McCoy added another touchdown on a 2-yard run with 1:59 left in the third quarter, upping the Eagles’ lead to 31-21, but Vick went out and momentum shifted to Atlanta.

It was time for the Falcons to turn things over to Ryan and their no-huddle attack and stop the Eagles third-string quarterback Mike Kafka, who had to play because Vince Young, the No. 2 quarterback was injured.

After the two touchdown drives and the defensive stop, the Falcons coache’s miscalculated the time and had to punt to the dangerous Jackson.

“That was probably a coaching error, we needed to run the ball,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “Not probably, it was a coaching error.”

The game wasn’t decided Lofton batted down the hail mary pass in the endzone.

28 comments Add your comment

Just A Fan

September 19th, 2011
2:56 am

Falcon James

September 19th, 2011
5:08 am

Clearly Ryan ran for his life most of the game, when he not on his back. The bright side is that Baker didn’t getting a holding call. That mostly because his man knocked him on his caboose and ran around him all night. Nice to see the win.

Wonder what the Saint fan doing?

Scott Anderson

September 19th, 2011
6:10 am

Enter your comments here

DC Falcon

September 19th, 2011
6:16 am

The good: The last two drives in the fourth Quarter were really good. Good play calls and good execution.

The bad: It took 3 quarters for the offense to show up.

DC Falcon

September 19th, 2011
6:24 am

Defense played much better despite the points given up. Dunta was the exception, he was out of position most of the game. The O-line is gonna get Matt killed if they dont get some help in there. Great LB and D-line play for most of the game. Much better tackling overall. Special Teams coverage was fantastic. Still wish Weems was not letting some many punts hit the ground and roll. Fair catch it man, Dont let you team start from the half-yard line.

Ernest

September 19th, 2011
6:26 am

A revamped Atlanta defensive unit, which opened with James Sanders at free safety for Thomas DeCoud and Kelvin Hayden at nickel back for Christopher Owens, started out strong and stopped the Eagles on the first two possessions.

Looks like one of the top recommendations from the blogs was taken. While there is still work to be done, incremental improvement was noticed.

drmaryb.(*_*).

September 19th, 2011
8:47 am

The Kicking Game!

My BREATH kicks harder than Bosher! Just release this guy and go find us a NFL kicker. Anybody on the practice squad?

dış cephe

September 19th, 2011
9:18 am

çok güzel bir web sitesi mantolama herksi vekleriz veryyyy nicee

MARCUS

September 19th, 2011
10:24 am

THIS WAS A VERY PHYSICAL GAME. THE FALCONS ARE EXTREMELY HARD TO BEAT IF THEY DONT TURN THE BALL OVER. THE 2 INTS MADE IT MORE DIFFICULT THAN IT HAD TO BE, BUT RYAN HUNG IN THERE DESPITE THE PICKS AND THE CONSTANT PRESSURE, AND THAT I THINK WAS THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE. THOMAS DECOUD THANK GOD WAS BENCHED AND IS NO LONGER A STARTER. DEFENSE LOOKED MUCH MUCH BETTER THIS WEEK THAN LAST WEEK. GO FALCONS

R Brown

September 19th, 2011
10:31 am

What was Dimitroff thinking when he gave up so much for JJ AND signed Bosher as the kicker for a projected Superbowl team?

Julio is at least a year away from having a major impact and Bosher is at best a game away from being cut!!

Go Falcs

September 19th, 2011
11:01 am

could be more wrong about Jones, he is making quite an impact right now.

Retnav

September 19th, 2011
12:05 pm

Probably the main thing I took away from this game is that Ryan needs to be running a no huddle offense just like Manning. I don’t know if Murlarky or whoever is calling the plays when they huddle but they are so predictable. It seems when Matty goes no huddle he has a better grasp of what is surrounding him and he is more deliberate in his play. But when they use the huddle it just looks like he is lost and confused. I think Robertson is one of the weakest cover men in our defense. He seems to be running around in circles and lost. Yea he can hit but he can’t cover. And last and least if you could not see the bias in the Refs last night you had to be blind. It was such a bad called game I could not beleve it.

R Brown

September 19th, 2011
12:21 pm

Go Falcs – but is future cost worth the current reward? We gave up a heck of a lot of high draft picks to get him when WR wasn’t really a huge need.

Asad

September 19th, 2011
12:25 pm

Great game. We needed the win and we got it. Edwards showed up last night, and that fumble return really turned the game around. Eagles would have gone up 17-7. The offense did what it could. The receivers didn’t have big games because the OL was horrible and they were up against the best trio of CBs on any team. It allowed Tony G to have a big night though. Turner keeps pounding till he finally breaks one free. it’s happened in both games now. Finally got Samuel L Jackson to show up, lol. Go Falcons!!

Go Falcs

September 19th, 2011
12:54 pm

debatable r brown, debatable. some would say the presence of a real threat like jones makes throws like those to tony g more makeable and frees up roddy, too. I see your point though.

Steve-O

September 19th, 2011
1:02 pm

Where are Chandler Going Deep, Choke, hiramsaint, JSS, seenthisB4, and so forth? They can dish it out but can’t take it.

Steve-O

September 19th, 2011
1:03 pm

Oh, and Peria Jerry welcome to the NFL! Nice to see you busting through the Eagles O Line to force that fumble. Please continue!

Falcons Jim

September 19th, 2011
1:16 pm

Chris Collinsworth can just ruin a good game.

Falcon Jim

September 19th, 2011
1:37 pm

Chaz Henry won the Ray Guy Award last year, was undrafted and is a local product from East Paulding High. We draft Bosher? T.D. missed on this one.

Captain Obvious

September 19th, 2011
1:52 pm

1) O line has serious problems. This is causing Ryan to lose confidence and play tentatively (see Joey Harrington after one year with the Lions for a reference point)
2) V Gorder still can’t consistently call defensive plays – especially red-zone coverage and goal-line stands. (Team was lucky Maclin dropped the ball on fourth down) – Fire the college coach. Smith should call defense.
3) Ryan is a better offensive coordinator than Mularkey, Bologna, or whatever his name is.
4) Glad they won but we are miles away from being great.

ArtBlank

September 19th, 2011
2:26 pm

Falcon Jim and Captain Obvious – I couldn’t agree more.

I just want to send a little message to Michael D.ick.
You see the scoreboard now??!!
I also have a little fin.ger for you. ollo

AlanFalcon

September 19th, 2011
5:40 pm

Steve-O, they are busted and probably sitting in the dark crying.

hiramsaint

September 19th, 2011
5:45 pm

i guess if you can’t win with football skill….play dirty. i can’t understand why y’all had so much trouble with the bears. you should have played them dirty too!

dgbiscuit

September 19th, 2011
6:29 pm

Boy hiram, that’s a good one. A Saint fan calling another team dirty. I do feel bad for you that they apparently don’t air your teams games where you live.

jonno

September 19th, 2011
7:16 pm

I don’t know how we managed to win that game despite all of our weaknesses being exposed and exploited. OL aside from Clabo and Blalock needs to be replaced. Baker is terrible.

Shoulda Drafted Joe Flaco

September 19th, 2011
7:35 pm

Enter your comments here

Chandler Going Deep..

September 19th, 2011
7:40 pm

Hey Coach how come the Patriots OL gives Brady all day to throw the rock and your OL is getting IceMelt crushed?

That split Patty did while getting crush was simply amazing..Talk about being flexible? Saved his season……lol

hiramsaint

September 19th, 2011
8:30 pm

dgbiscuit- they air them where you live and you love it.