ATLANTA, Sporting Alert – The Atlanta Falcons held off a second half rally from the Philadelphia Eagles to start the season with a 26-24 victory on Monday Night Football. Box Score and Play-by-Play Score Summary
The win ensured that Falcons new head coach Dan Quinn got off to a winning start.
Julio Jones caught two touchdown passes from Matt Ryan in the second quarter and finished the contest with 141 yards to lead the way for the home side, but it was the late performance from the Eagles defense that got the praises.
“I am so happy right now,” quarterback Ryan told ESPN. “The defense stepped up and hats off to them, they played great tonight.”
Atlanta led the Philadelphia Eagles 20-3 at half time after a strong start to the contest.
Ryan first found Jones from 10 yards with 10:44 on the clock before connecting again with the wide receiver for a (VIDEO)
Ryan finished with 23 of 34 for 298 yards, but threw two interceptions, which almost cost his team.
After a sluggish first half where they tallied 125 yards and ended the opening 30 minutes with just eight yards rushing, the Eagles, who were kept out of the end zone during that period, picked up the tempo after the break.
The visitors, who stormed out of the gates in the second half and scored the first 14 points, went on to take a 23-24 lead with 8:37 left in the game.
However, Cody Parkey missed a 44-yard field goal attempt when trying to give the Eagles a 27-26 advantage with 2:27 left.
Sam Bradford then threw his second pick as he failed to connect with Jordan Mattews on what turned out to be the last play for the travelers in the defeat.
In his first start for the Eagles, Bradford finished with 36 of 52 for 336 yards and one touchdown.
The Falcons were securing its eighth successive victory in season openers in Atlanta, a streak that is the longest active run in the NFL.
Credit must be given to new coach Dan Quinn and his staff for the work done on what looks like a new and improved Falcons defense.
Prior to kick-off, the Eagles announced that linebacker Marcus Smith will be inactive for this Week 1 contest.
The Eagles didn’t score a touchdown in the first half in Week 2 (vs. Colts) or Week 11 (vs. Packers) last season. They only have a field goal on the board with just over six minutes to play in the half.
Smith, who was listed as day-to-day and was limited in practice last week, has not fully recovered from a hamstring injury he picked up during a joint practice with the Baltimore Ravens in August.
Also listed as inactive for Kelly’s Eagles side was the recent addition to the quarterback position Stephen Morris, running back Kenjon Barner, as well as offensive linemen Josh Andrews and Dennis Kelly.
Inactive as well were defensive end Brandon Bair and cornerback Denzel Rice.
Meanwhile, for the Atlanta Falcons, offensive linemen Gino Gradkowski and Bryce Harris and linebackers Brooks Reed and Joplo Bartu, were among the seven players listed as inactive for the home side.
Not suiting up for the Monday Night Football opener as well were receiver Justin Hardy, and receiver and return specialist, Devin Hester.
FALCONS INACTIVES: WR Justin Hardy, WR Devin Hester, CB Dezmen Southward, LB Brooks Reed, LB Joplo Bartu, C Gino Gradkowski, T Bryce Harris
EAGLES INACTIVES: QB Stephen Morris, RB Kenjon Barner, CB Denzel Rice, G/T Dennis Kelly, G Josh Andrews, LB Marcus Smith, DE Brandon Bair