Hayes: Five talking points about the Eagles' win over the Falcons
From Wentz, it came: The rookie was solid all day: 25-for-36, 231 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions, one fumble lost in the 24-15 win that moved the Birds to 5-4. Carson Wentz did make mistakes - he stopped the clock with 3 seconds left in the first h
From Wentz, it came: The rookie was solid all day: 25-for-36, 231 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions, one fumble lost in the 24-15 win that moved the Birds to 5-4. Carson Wentz did make mistakes - he stopped the clock with 3 seconds left in the first half with a throwaway that gave the Falcons the ball near midfield and took a delay of game penalty on third-and-7 at the Falcons' 32 early in the fourth that preceded a field goal try that was short by about 5 yards - but he was playing in his ninth NFL game, and, as usual, had a few passes dropped. Wentz also tucked and ran for 13 yards on second-and-12 down late in the third quarter and his 18-yard pass to Zach Ertz in the fourth quarter displayed his remarkable arm strength and sparked the winning drive. Penn Charter product and Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, an MVP candidate, was 18-for-33 for 267 yards with a touchdown and a late interception.
2. In their defense: The Birds faced the No. 1 offense in the NFL and shined. Defensive backs Malcolm Jenkins and Nolan Carroll, defensive ends Brandon Graham, and Connor Barwin, linebacker Mychal Kendricks and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox showed up and limited the dangerous Falcons to 15 points. Carroll left the game with a concussion near halftime, replaced by normal starter Leodis McKelvin, forced into a backup role because of a hamstring injury. McKelvin was burned by Taylor Gabriel for a 76-yard TD early in the fourth but played well otherwise.
3. Long train running: Aiming for the defense's soft underbelly, the Eagles attacked relentlessly on the ground with all four backs and gained 208 yards on the ground, a season high. Embattled back Ryan Mathews responded with 109 yards on 19 carries, including a 4-yard TD run to end the first drive of the game and a 5-yarder to put the Eagles back on top in the fourth quarter. He eluded Grady Jarrett on the ensuing two-point conversion. It had been 20 games since an Eagle gained 100 rushing yards (DeMarco Murray, Game 5 in 2015 vs. the Giants).
4. Special (teams) delivery: Caleb Sturgis kicked a 48-yard field goal with 1:57 to play to make it a nine-point game, redeeming himself for a 44-yard miss earlier. Kickoff returner Kenjon Barner logged runbacks 31 and 52 yards. He replaced Josh Huff, who was cut two weeks following an arrest on DUI and weapons charges.
5. Doug E. Fresh: Eagles coach Doug Pederson, under fire for his decisions in consecutive losses, designed beautiful plays and significantly, kept the ball away from the Falcons' potent offense for more than more than 38 minutes, almost a 2-to-1 ratio.
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