Who would have thought entering this game that about the only thing keeping the Falcons in the game at halftime would be their defense?
It’s a much-maligned unit but after the offense failed to score and put up only 118 yards, several stops by the Falcons’ defense limited the score to only 13-0 Philadelphia at halftime.
On the offense’s best foray of the half, the Eagles made a goal-line stand on a series that is sure to provoke plenty of examination after the game. Jason Snelling reached the 1-yard line on first down but for the next three downs — all runs by Snelling — he could get no closer. Quentin Mikell made the tackle on fourth down with 17 seconds left in the quarter to stop Snelling short.
So, defensively, it looks like the Falcons’ bend-but-don’t-break defense is making a return and keeping the game as close as it is. It’s really bending, but so far the unit has limited the Eagles to two field goals on three possessions that reached at least the Falcons’ 21-yard line. A fourth possession resulted on a touchdown, but the Eagles had to go only 22 yards following a Falcons’ fumble on a kickoff.
That’s a tough task for the defense.
The yardage gap between the Eagles and Falcons is frightening.
Prior to the Falcons’ possession that started with 8:10 left in the period, the Eagles had outgaind the Falcons by 225 yards to 55. The Eagles had two pass plays of 50 yards or better. Amazingly, neither led to a touchdown.
Falcons quarterback Chris Redman only had one series in which he completed more than one pass in the half and that was the final possession. About the only possible silver lining on that final possession would be that Redman was at his best of the day. He will need to carry that into the second half. Redman has completed 5 of 15 tries for 75 yards. The completions included a fourth-down conversion to Tony Gonzalez for 6 yards.
So far the MVP for the Falcons in this game should be punter Michael Koenen.
He has gotten three punts downed inside the Eagles’ 10 and his tackle on Jeremy Maclin saved a touchdown. On two of those Eagles’ possessions, the Eagles were able to flip the field position on the Falcons. The third set up the Falcons’ best scoring chance that ended at the Eagles’ 1.
A significant development on that drive was that the Eagles were called for two personal fouls — one on defensive end Victor Abiamiri and one on strong safety Quintin Demps — to keep the drive going. Demps’ gave the Falcons a first down at the Eagles’ 7.
Injury-wise both teams are banged up, but in this game the Eagles have the more serious loss. Starting left tackle Jason Peters suffered a head and shoulder injury and his return was listed as questionable. For the Falcons, reserve linebacker Tony Gilbert, who mainly plays on special teams, suffered a hamstring injury and his return is questionable.