Eagles win battle of the birds
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ryan Mathews ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns, a tenacious defense held down the league’s highest-scoring offense and the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons 24-15 on Sunday.
Carson Wentz threw for 231 yards and led the Eagles (5-4) to a comeback victory for the first time this season. Caleb Sturgis made three field goals, including a clutch kick from 48 yards to seal the win late.
“The run game was huge,” Wentz said. “It was good to get Ryan the ball, feed him the rock and he was running angry. That makes my job easier.”
Matt Ryan threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Gabriel in the fourth quarter to give Atlanta (6-4) a 15-13 lead, but Philadelphia answered.
Mathews ran in from the 5 and also converted the 2-point conversion for a 21-15 lead with 7:14 left in the game.
On Atlanta’s ensuing possession, Julio Jones dropped a pass on third-and-12 and the Falcons punted away. Jones couldn’t make a difficult catch on fourth-and-5 on Atlanta’s next drive.
Jones, sporting fashionable cleats to support the NFL’s Salute To Service, had 10 catches for 135 yards.
The Falcons came in averaging 33.8 points. But they settled for field goals of 38, 43 and 46 yards by Matt Bryant before Ryan connected with Gabriel.
“They outdid us in all phases,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “We had our opportunities and we didn’t nail them. We had the lead and couldn’t close it.”
Mathews had just nine carries combined in the past two games while 33-year-old Darren Sproles was featured. But coach Doug Pederson made a point to establish the run right away. Mathews carried seven times for 34 yards on the first drive, taking it in from the 4 for a 7-0 lead.
Rookie Wendell Smallwood had 70 yards rushing and Philadelphia finished with a season-high 208 on the ground.
“That’s an explosive offense and I felt we had to possess the ball and running game had to be a factor,” Pederson said.
Ryan was 18 of 33 for 267 yards, one TD and one interception.
Matthews was upset after not getting a call on a shot to the head from Keanu Neal in the fourth quarter. He had a busted lip and needed to replace his facemask because it was bent. “They can look up at the screen and see it. Just get the call right,” he said.
Stay on the sideline
Ryan and Atlanta’s high-powered offense spent a lot of time watching from the sideline. The Eagles dominated time of possession nearly 2 to 1 by controlling the ball for 38:10.
The Eagles won the battle on both sides, pushing the Falcons’ defense around and paving the way for the run game. Atlanta’s offensive line allowed Ryan to get pressured and forced him to make quick throws several times. He was sacked twice.
The Eagles are 4-0 at home, including convincing wins over the Steelers and Vikings. They’ve outscored their opponents 108-38.
Bryant had two decent punts after Matt Bosher left with a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter.
Vic Beasley Jr. had two sacks, including a strip that forced Wentz to fumble and the Falcons recovered at their own 42. Philip Wheeler stopped Mathews at the 1 and Paul Worrilow tacked Mathews for a 1-yard loss on the next play to force a field goal in the fourth quarter.
On consecutive plays to end the first half, Jones and then Eagles wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham played deep safety to defend potential desperation passes.
Eagles CB Nolan Carroll left the game late in the first half after sustaining a concussion. … Falcons CB Desmond Trufant, RB Tevin Coleman and TE Jacob Tamme sat out with injuries. Eagles LG Allen Barbre missed his second straight game.
The Falcons host the Arizona Cardinals, while the Eagles visit the Seattle