In Monday’s season opener, Kelly shocked many with a late game decision, however, when he chose to play it safe.
With the Eagles trailing 26-24, Kelly would elect to attempt a 44-yard field goal on 4th and 1 with 2:32 seconds remaining. The seemingly safe bet would backfire, however, as Cody Parkey missed wide right, giving the Falcons back the ball.
The Eagles defense would come up big on the ensuing drive, forcing a three-and-out, but the Eagles would be unable to complete their comeback, as a ball sailed through the hands of Jordan Matthews and into the hands of Falcons safety Ricardo Allen to ice the game with 1:17 remaining. The Falcons would kneel three times, and just like that, the Eagles had picked up a 26-24 loss to start the 2015 season.
After the Eagles went three-and-out for their second straight possession, the Falcons would drive deep into Eagles territory again, getting the ball to the three yard line before a penalty backed them up five yards. One of the Eagles’ big offseason acquisitions would come up huge, however, as Kiko Alonso made a seemingly impossible one-handed interception (video) in the end zone to bring the Falcons’ drive to an end.
That would be one of the few highlights in the first half for the Eagles though.
While the Eagles’ offense floundered, the Falcons would continue to pick apart the defense, with Julio Jones scoring two touchdowns on eight first half catches for 97 yards to help send the Falcons go the locker room with a 20-3 lead.
The tide would begin to turn early in the second half, however, as Walter Thurmond picked off Matt Ryan on just the third play of the half, returning it 23 yards to the Falcons eight yard line. The Eagles would punch it home two plays later on an eight-yard run by DeMarco Murray to cut the deficit to 20-10.
The Eagles defense would follow that by forcing the Falcons to punt on the next drive. Sam Bradford and company would then proceed to march 95 yards downfield and score another touchdown on a five-yard pass to Murray to cut the Falcons’ lead to just 20-17.
The Falcons would manage a field goal on the ensuing drive, but the Eagles would respond with another touchdown on a one-yard run by Ryan Mathews to take the lead, 24-23.
Atlanta would respond with yet another field goal to regain the lead, but the Eagles’ offense would continue to march down the field. With less than three minutes remaining, however, Chip Kelly would opt for the cautious approach, electing not to go for it on 4th and 1, and have Cody Parkey attempt a 44-yard field goal instead.
Parkey would miss wide right, leaving many questioning why Kelly chose to attempt to take a one point lead rather than try to continue the drive and hopefully eat some more clock before regaining the lead.
While the Eagles’ defense would be able to force a three-and-out to give the offense one more shot, Bradford and friends would not have another drive left in them, as he was picked off on 3rd and 8 to bring an end to the game with the Falcons escaping with a 26-24 win.
Starting the season 0-1 is hardly how the Eagles and fans imagined things getting underway, and the team has quite a bit of room for improvement after one game. On the positive side, the offense showed in the second half how dynamic it can be when it finds its rhythm.
The Eagles will look for their first win of the season on Sunday, when they host the Cowboys at 4:25 p.m.
Notes: Sam Bradford completed 36-of-52 passes for 336 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in his Eagles debut.
DeMarco Murray would run for just nine yards on eight carries in his Eagles debut, but would rush for one touchdown. He finished the first half with -4 yards rushing on four carries. Murray would also catch four passes for 11 yards and one touchdown.
Jordan Matthews finished the evening with 102 yards on 10 catches.
Darren Sproles caught seven passes for 76 yards and ran for 50 yards on five carries.
Julio Jones finished with 141 yards and two touchdowns on nine catches for the Falcons.
By: Kyle Babcock
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