PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles finally showed that they can win a game in the fourth quarter as they rallied for a 24-15 win against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Eagles trailed 15-13 when running back Ryan Mathews scored on a 5-yard run for the winning points and then their defense kept the high-flying Falcons’ offense in check, forcing a punt and then taking over on downs on Atlanta’s next two possessions. The Eagles wrapped it up when Caleb Sturgis drilled a 48-yard field goal with 1:57 left to make it a two-score game.
Mathews, who had lost his starting job to Darren Sproles, rushed for a season-high 109 yards on 19 carries. Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz completed 25 of 36 passes for 231 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan completed 18 of 33 for 267 yards, with a touchdown and an interception on the Falcons’ final possession of the game.
The Eagles (5-4) got off to a great start as they drove 81 yards in 12 plays on their first possession of the game to take a 7-0 lead on running back Mathews’ 4-yard touchdown run. Mathews carried the ball on the final five plays of the drive and averaged almost 7 yards per carry.
After Sturgis missed a 44-yard field goal attempt, the Falcons (6-4) drove downfield — highlighted by a 29-yard pass to Julio Jones — and scored their first points on Matt Bryant’s 38-yarder, which made it 7-3 with 9:36 left in the second quarter. Then Atlanta tacked on another three points before the half, as Bryant kicked a 43-yarder to make it 7-6 with 2:59 left in the first half.
The Eagles also scored after a long drive to open the second half, but this time they had to settle for a field goal after a holding penalty on center Jason Kelce on first-and-10 from the 12. Sturgis’ 29-yarder made it 10-6 with 8:16 left in the third period.
The Falcons answered with another field goal of their own — this time from 46 yards — which made the score Eagles 10, Matt Bryant 9.
Sturgis made it 13-9 on the Eagles’ next possession, but they should have had more — Philadelphia drove to the Falcons’ 1-yard line, but on third down Mathews was dropped for a yard loss on an outside running play.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson was criticized last week for going for it twice on fourth down, but he took no chances this time, and Sturgis’ kicked a 25-yarder with 13:50 left in the third quarter.
The NFL’s top scoring offense finally came to life to give the Falcons their first lead of the game. On second down from the Atlanta 24, wide receiver Taylor Gabriel put a move on defender Leodis McKelvin and sprinted past him. Gabriel was all alone when he cradled Ryan’s pass and he cruised the final 45 yards to give Atlanta a 15-13 lead after Bryant missed the point-after kick.
Then it was the Philadelphia offense’s turn to push the ball into the end zone, helped along by a 21-yard pass-interference penalty against Falcons cornerback Brian Poole, which put the ball on the Atlanta 5. On the next play, Mathews bulled his way for the touchdown and then did the same for the two-point conversion to give the Eagles a 21-15 lead with 6:49 left to play.
NOTES: The Falcons were without two starters, both out with shoulder injuries — CB Desmond Trufant (replaced by Jalen Collins) and TE Jacob Tamme (Levine Toilolo). … Eagles LG Allen Barbre missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury. He was replaced again by Stefan Wisniewski. … Eagles CB Aaron Grymes made his NFL debut on special teams after being promoted from the practice squad this week. Grymes, who wasn’t drafted out of Idaho, spent the last three years playing for the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL.