|After another sluggish performance by Michael Vick in a 30-17 loss to the Falcons, coach Andy Reid (right) indicated he was going to evaluate the quarterback position for the Eagles. Vick even said he had no problem with it. (US Presswire)|
The Falcons had to work too hard and too long for some of their earlier victories this season 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 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).
The Falcons took advantage of the Eagles' aggressive pass rush with screens and draw plays, and QB Matt 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 didn't help themselves with another slow start. They've only scored one touchdown in the first quarter all season -- and Michael Vick continued to struggle. Eagles coach Andy Reid refused to commit to Vick, saying he would evaluate the situation, and Vick said he won't be surprised if he gets benched.
“Obviously, he's thinking about making a change at the quarterback position,'' Vick said. “Whatever decision coach makes, I support it.”
When the game turned: The Eagles had shrugged off a sluggish start to score a touchdown and cut Atlanta's lead to 14-7, and it appeared the home team finally had the momentum. But then the Falcons struck back in a big way -- WR Julio Jones blew past CB Nnamdi Asomugha on a long sideline pattern and hauled in Ryan's pass for a 63-yard TD. The Falcons were never really threatened after that.
Highlight moments: Ryan's 63-yard TD pass to WR Julio Jones that gave the Falcons 21-7 lead. … Atlanta RB Jacquizz Rodgers' 43-yard run in the third quarter that set up Falcons' second TD. (That was the longest run vs. the Eagles this year.) … Eagles WR DeSean Jackson's 32-yard reception that set up their first TD -- it was also the Eagles' longest gain of the day.
- Matt Ryan -- Completed 76 percent of his passes, threw three TD passes with no interceptions and finished day with QB rating of 137.4.
- Julio Jones -- five receptions for 123 yards, including 63-yarder for a TD in the second quarter
- Falcons RB Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for a career-high 80 yards, including a career-long 43-yard run in the third quarter that set up a FG.
What they said about the Falcons' fast start and Eagles' slow one:
- Eagles coach Andy Reid: “That was obviously an embarrassing performance. We obviously didn't start fast enough.”
- Falcons coach Mike Smith: “Coming off a bye week, our goal was to come and play fast in all three phases of the game, and I thought we got that job done.”
- Eagles CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: “You have your backs against the wall going into a must-win game and you go out there and play like that -- I can't explain it.”
- Falcons C Todd McClure: “We know there is some turmoil here in Philly, so we wanted to come out and drive the ball down and score quickly.”
Numbers you should know: The Falcons converted 7 of their 13 third-down situations, a 54 percent success rate in a league where the average is 38.9 percent. The Falcons were 5 for 5 on third downs during their first touchdown drive and 2 for 2 on their second. … 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 the Eagles have ever lost a game coming out of their bye week under coach Andy Reid. They had been 13-0. … Atlanta WR Julio Jones' 63-yard reception was the longest vs. the Eagles this year. … The Eagles recorded their first sack in 4½ games and 154 pass attempts against them. DT Cedric Thornton took the honors and the crowd responded with a mock cheer.
Injury update: Falcons -- Atlanta 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 Falcons' last game vs. Oakland. … DT Vance Walker left in the second half with head injury and did not return. Eagles -- The Eagles didn't have RG Danny Watkins (ankle); rookie Dennis Kelly, playing in his first NFL game, started in his place. … WR Mardy Gilyard left in first quarter with a strained hamstring and did not return so Brandon Boykin returned punts in the second half.
Going forward: Eagles -- They travel to New Orleans to take on Drew Brees and the Saints' high-powered offense, and that sets the stage for what is always the biggest game of the year for Eagles fans -- the hated Dallas Cowboys come to town for an NFC East game. The next act isn't a bad one, either. The Eagles play at Washington and get their first look at Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III. Falcons -- They have the same schedule as the Eagles in the next two weeks, but reversed -- they'll play Dallas and then New Orleans and be looking to tighten their grip on first place in NFC South -- and the No.1 seed for the playoffs.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Philadelphia Eagles from blogger Kevin Noonan, follow @CBSEagles.
For more Falcons coverage, follow Mike Singer @CBSSportsNFLATL.