Kickers' day full of adventure
IT WAS AN interesting day to be a kicker at Lincoln Financial Field. There was very little wind most of the game, it was sunny and dry, but the Eagles' reliable Caleb Sturgis missed 44- and 55-yard field-goal attempts, and Falcons kicker Matt Bryant missed an extra point and a 53-yard field-goal try.
IT WAS AN interesting day to be a kicker at Lincoln Financial Field.
There was very little wind most of the game, it was sunny and dry, but the Eagles' reliable Caleb Sturgis missed 44- and 55-yard field-goal attempts, and Falcons kicker Matt Bryant missed an extra point and a 53-yard field-goal try.
Bryant, now 41, is the guy who beat the Eagles with a 62-yard final-play field goal 10 years ago at Tampa Bay. Sunday he ended up having to punt twice when Falcons punter Matt Bosher, who handles kickoffs, suffered a hamstring pull trying to tackle Kenjon Barner on a 52-yard fourth-quarter kickoff return.
Both Bryant punts, for 36 and 31 yards, were fair-caught.
Sturgis hit from 29 and 25 yards before the 55-yard miss, then he eventually supplied the Eagles' final margin, hitting a 48-yard field goal at the same end where he had missed twice.
"It felt good to get it down at the end," Sturgis said after the Birds' first successful fourth-quarter comeback of the Carson Wentz era.
Sturgis said on the first miss, he "just pushed it right. It was a really bad hit." He said he would have liked to have hit the 55-yarder "a little cleaner." It was down the middle but short.
Sturgis is the Eagles' emergency punter should misfortune befall Donnie Jones.
"Hopefully it never happens," said Sturgis, who added that Bryant "turned both over, got 'em through the game, which is what you have to do if you're the kicker in that situation."
Sturgis had hit 18 field goals in a row before last week at the Giants, when he had a 40-yarder blocked.
Falcons defensive end and top pass rusher Victor Beasley, the eighth player taken in the 2015 draft, did not terrorize Eagles rookie right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, though he did reach around Vaitai to cause a Carson Wentz fumble, the home team's only turnover of the game.
That counted as a sack, and Beasley got home one more time, when Wentz held the ball far too long.
"He's a great player. He's very quick. But I've learned my lesson from that first game (when Washington's Ryan Kerrigan repeatedly beat Vaitai to the inside) not to overset that guy," Vaitai said. "I kept my composure, tried to stay low, tried to give him only one way (to Wentz), which was outside, the whole time."
Vaitai said that on the fumble, "I had no idea I was so close to the quarterback."
This was Vaitai's fifth start subbing for Lane Johnson, who reached the midpoint of his 10-game NFL suspension.
Bennie Logan's return really seemed to help the Eagles' defense. "It was fun to be back out there," said Logan, the defensive tackle who had missed three games with a groin injury. Logan said "the energy at home" is why the Eagles are 4-0 at the Linc, allowing just 38 total points . . . The Falcons' 11 first downs represented their lowest total since 2007 . . . Atlanta converted just two of 11 third downs and was 0-for-1 on fourth down . . . Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin recorded sacks of Matt Ryan . . .
Sure tackling of Ryan's receivers, often just short of a first down, played a part in the victory. "No yards after catch," was the goal, Eagles safety Rodney McLeod said . . . There was no postgame update on Nolan Carroll's concussion . . . Doug Pederson said the Eagles played more Cover 2 than usual, against Atlanta's potent passing game . . . Cornerback Aaron Grymes made his NFL debut, on special teams, after a three-year journey from playing at Idaho to winning the Grey Cup with the Edmonton Eskimos . . .
No targets and obviously, no catches for Dorial Green-Beckham and Bryce Treggs. The Eagles seemed to be using the wideouts to open space underneath for tight end Zach Ertz (six catches on seven targets, 55 yards) and running back Darren Sproles (10 targets, eight catches, 57 yards.) Running back Ryan Mathews also had a pair of catches, for 10 and 20 yards.