By Matthew Asher
Falcons head coach Mike Smith has got to be on Cloud 9. Not only did his Falcons defeat the Eagles 30-17 to stay undefeated at 7-0, but with that win, Smith now stands alone as the winningest coach in Falcons history. In just 71 games, Smith has won 50 games, the third shortest amount of time for a head coach since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
The victory over the Eagles broke two streaks. First, this is Atlanta’s first win in Philadelphia since Oct 30, 1988, going 0-6 during the stretch. Second, this was Andy Reid’s first loss following a bye week. He was a perfect 13-0 previously.
Overall, Atlanta played a great game in all aspects of the game. Atlanta’s offense didn’t turn the ball over, the defense was solid and even special teams came through.
Cornerback Asante Samuel taunted his former team early and often. His taunting started right after the coin toss and by the fourth quarter, Samuel was dancing on the field between plays. He had good reason to celebrate. “We’re 7-0 over here baby,” Samuel said. “If I was over there now, they have to go to work.”
Atlanta’s offense, specifically Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, get an A. Matt Ryan was 22-29 throwing for 262 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions with a QB rating of 137.4. (For reference, a perfect QB rating is 158.3) Julio Jones caught five passes for 123 yards including a 63-yard touchdown. This is Jones’ seventh career 100-plus receiving game, with all seven coming away from the Georgia Dome.
Atlanta started off the game with a 16-play 80 yard drive that ended with Ryan throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass to Drew Davis. Ryan has now thrown a touchdown in 22 straight games, the third-longest active streak in the NFL behind just Drew Brees (49) and Tom Brady (40).
Atlanta’s first three offensive possessions all went for touchdowns and scored points on their first six possessions. Atlanta’s lone punt came with 5:35 left in the 4th quarter.
Special teams get an A. This goes back to Atlanta’s offense being so good throughout the game. Kicker Matt Bryant scored 12 points, going 3/3 on both field goals (with a long of 43 yards) and extra points. For the season, Bryant is 13-14 on field goals with a long of 55 yards and two game-winning kicks.
Atlanta’s defense gets a B. It’s not that the Falcons defense played poorly. They did a fine job holding the Eagles to just 283 yards of offense. This was just the first game this season that Philly did not commit a turnover.
Receivers not named Julio Jones get a B. Jones nearly outgained the rest of the receivers with just his five catches. Six other Falcons caught 17 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Tony Gonzalez only had three catches for 29 yards, but it moved him up to ninth place on the NFL’s all-time receiving yardage list with 13,797. He is still stuck on 99 career touchdowns.
Running back Michael Turner gets a C-. In seven games, Michael Turner has only rushed for more than 100 yards one time. Today his 24 rushes for 58 yards is embarrassing. Why? Backup running back Jacquizz Rodgers outgained Turner (60 yards) on just eight carries. Turner did take fumble once, but Atlanta recovered the ball. Still, with Rodgers gaining more than 100 all-purpose yards in the game, Turner needs to step up or he might find himself on the bench.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.