Again, no one said it had to be pretty. What seems like a theme with this team is their ability to grind out the ugly wins, and that was the case once again in week 10. The Eagles continue to dominate at Lincoln Financial Field, now 4-0 on the season in the City of Brotherly Love after pulling out a nine point win over the Falcons.
The Eagles definitely came in with a specific gameplan against the Falcons porous defense…run the ball in the middle, and throw towards the sidelines. The execution of this offensive strategy was extremely solid. The defensive game plan: good luck. One of the best offensive units in the league led by Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones was bound to put up 30+ points right? Wrong.
Despite Julio’s stat line looking relatively large (10 catches for 135 yards), they didn’t let him have that humongous play that he seems to torch teams with regularly. Matt Ryan struggled, completing just 18 of 33 pass attempts for 267 yards along with a touchdown and an interception. The third member of that unit, Freeman, was held to just 49 yards rushing on 12 attempts. Defensive leader Malcolm Jenkins explained the Eagles mindset going into this matchup.
“We understood this was a great offense. They’ve scored on pretty much everybody. We knew we’d have to eliminate those big plays for touchdowns. And when they do get into the red zone, we need to get stops and hold them to field goals. For the majority of the game, we did that,” said Jenkins.
After a week of weird decisions by Doug Pederson, it was relieving the see the playcalling for this game. Carson Wentz was back to being his efficient self (25/36 for 221 yards without a touchdown or an interception). Leaning on his offensive leaders, Jordan Matthews, Darren Sproles and Zach Ertz each had 6 catches but the story of the game were the running backs for the green and white.
The Eagles ran the ball 38 times, including 19 carries for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns for Ryan Mathews and 13 carries for 70 yards for rookie Wendell Smallwood. The Eagles quadrupled the number of yards that the Falcons had on the ground. In 5 games this season with Ryan Mathews getting 10+ carries, the Eagles are 4-1 (ahem, Doug).
This game was a challenge for the Eagles, and to many, a must-win. With the Cowboys getting another win and seemingly running away with the NFC East, the Eagles (at 5-4) have to be thinking wild card. Currently, they find themselves just out behind the 5-3-1 Redskins and the 5-3 Giants (who play the Bengals on Monday night) and are tied with the Vikings but the Eagles have the tiebreaker with the win earlier this season.
The schedule does not get any easier for the Birds. Next week, they will head across the country to face the Seattle Seahawks in America’s Game of the Week at 4:25PM on FOX. The tests will continue, the question is to see if the Eagles can ace them.