In the 2018 season opener, Falcons fans got a deja vu feeling of last year’s Divisional Round game in the same stadium. The Falcons lose for the third time in a row to the Philadelphia Eagles 18-12. The game came down to the last play of the game, which was the same situation as the last game. Matt Ryan throwing a potential game winning touchdown to Julio Jones in the end zone. However, this game ended with Jones catching the ball and landing out of bounds. The game was a slow-starting, penalty-ridden and overall sloppy Thursday Night Football game. The Eagles, high off a Super Bowl win, were thought to have a slight disadvantage because of injuries and the uncertainty over Nick Foles. In the end, the Falcons had many factors that held them back from the desired first game win.
Both teams’ defenses were effective as the low score reflects. In a disappointing game, Falcons fans has something to smile about and take away from this game. The defense looked extremely promising. The first look of the defense gave us a solid performance all four quarters. The Eagles did not score a touchdown until there were 4 and a half minutes left in the third quarter. One of the problems the Falcons faced in this game was the amount of players who went down with an apparent injuries. Players such as Desmond Trufant, Deion Jones, and Takk McKinley all found themselves on the ground forcing an injury timeout. Keanu Neal actually went down twice and was ultimately ruled out for the rest of the game. Deion Jones, luckily, came back to the game and got himself a big-time interception which set up the one Falcons touchdown of the game.
The only huge downfall for the defense was the missed tackles in the last Eagles possession, which gave them their winning rushing touchdown by Jay Ajayi. Though in hindsight, the quick touchdown by the Eagles gave the Falcons enough time to make those game winning touchdown attempts. There were 26 penalties in a game that at one point seemed like there were yellow flags after every play. The defense was a big bright spot in this otherwise upsetting game.
REDZONE and OFFENSE
The Falcons bring the issues they had inside of the 20-yard line from last season into the start of this season. From the beginning of the game to the end the Falcons struggled tremendously in the red zone. The first possession of the game ended with a turnover on downs inside the five-yard line. The second possession of the game went the same way but ended with a field goal. There were many points left on the field in this game. The struggles in the red zone mainly came from the quarterback. Ryan had many over and under throws including the two-minute drill at the end of the game.
The offensive side of the ball carries a lot of the weight for this loss. The run plays did not manufacture many yards. However, fans can find solace in the fact that the Eagles have a dominating run defense. On a positive note, Julio Jones had a monster game. Though he could not finish with the game winning touchdown, he played a huge role in why the game even came down to the last play. Jones ended the game with 10 catches and 169 yards. He also had a no catch call that was reviewed and kept a no catch. Many people, including the commentators, argued that it was a big miscall. That catch could have turned the game in the Falcons favor.
Watching the “Julio Jones” show is great, but it seems like the Falcons will achieve the most success if they get back to the 2016 offense where Ryan spreads the ball to all of his offensive weapons.
This game was a heart breaker but should not be a discouraging loss. The Falcons go home to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to face a NFC South rival in the Carolina Panthers on September 16, 2018