PHILADELPHIA — Here are the Falcons’ grades for the 30-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
A-plus — Quarterbacks: Ryan bounced back from his worst game of the season in grand fashion as he directed the Falcons to scores on their first six possessions. The Falcons set the tone with the 16-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to open the game.
B-plus — Running backs: Michael Turner, Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling all did some damage. Even wide receiver Julio Jones helped the rushing attack with a 9-yard gain. Turner’s numbers were not great (24 for 58 yards), but the Falcons kept pounding away at the Eagles defense in order to slow down the pass rush from their “Wide Tackle Nine” alignment. Rodgers came through with the back-breaker 43-yard run and Snelling caught a touchdown pass. Overall, the Falcons rushed for 146 yards on 37 carries.
A — Receivers: Julio Jones had a big day with five catches for 123 yards and a 63-yard touchdown. On the touchdown grab he used his speed to run past Philadalphia’s Nnamdi Asomugha. Jones averaged 24.6 yards per catch. Drew Davis filled in for Harry Douglas with two catches, including a 15-yard touchdown.
A-minus — Offensive line: Rookie Peter Konz made his first NFL start at right guard for Garrett Reynolds (balky back injury) and held his own. “It went good,” Konz said. “It’s always tough to play in an away environment, especially in your first game. I think it went pretty well.” Center Todd McClure and head coach Mike Smith concurred. The line approached the game like it was an 80-round fight and tried to maul the Eagles for 80 rounds. Things started out slow in the run game, but they eventually wore down the Eagles and slowed down their pass rush. The unit gave up two sacks and contained Philly ends Trent Cole and Jason Babin.
A — Defensive line: The Falcons debuted their “Big Tackle Three” alignment against the Eagles. They used tackles Jonathan Babineaux, Vance Walker and Peria Jerry on some running downs for their ability to get penetration and get off blocks in order to slow down Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy. Corey Peters played for Jerry in the alignment some in the second half. He played 20 of 63 snaps (32 percent) in his first game back from his stress fracture injury. Defensive end Kroy Biermann had a big game with seven tackles and a sack. John Abraham had his eighth sack of the season.
A — Linebackers: Stephen Nicholas and Sean Weatherspoon created some mayhem for the defense. Nicholas appeared fully recovered from the ankle injury he suffered against Washington as he had five tackles, one pass breakup. Weatherspoon, before leaving with an ankle injury, had six tackles and one quarterback hit. Middle linebacker Akeem Dent played 22 snaps (35 percent) and had one tackle.
A — Defensive backs: Asante Samuel returned to his old stomping grounds and had a solid game. Nickel back Robert McClain finished with six tackles, one quarterback hit and one pass breakup. Safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore stayed deeper than the deepest receiver and eliminated the long-ball from Philadelphia’s attack.
C — Special teams: This grade is low because of the blocked punt by Eagles linebacker Casey Matthews. Punter Matt Bosher had most of the day off with just two punts. Kicker Matt Bryant made all three of his field goal attempts.
A — Coaching: You’ve got to give defensive coordinator Mike Nolan an ‘A’ for creativity. He had to fix the run defense and went with a “Big Tackle Three” alignment to slow down the Eagles. With the aid of the “Big Tackle Three” the Eagles became the first team the Falcons held to under 100 yards rushing this season. Defensive end Ray Edwards lost some playing time as he played on 10 of 63 defensive snaps (16 percent). Give coach Mike Smith and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter credit for sticking with the rushing attack throughout the game. They didn’t know what new Eagles coordinator Todd Bowles was going to do so they countered with some old-fashioned smash-mouth football. Also, Smith became the winningest coach in Falcons history with the victory as he moved past Dan Reeves.
NEXT UP: The Falcons (7-0) face the Dallas Cowboys (3-4) at 8:20 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome. The Cowboys are coming of tough 29-24 loss to the New York Giants.
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