3 things we saw as Ryan Mathews, Eagles fly past Falcons in Week 11

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The Eagles tallied 431 yards of offense Sunday — 210 of them on the ground — against the Falcons in a Week 10 battle in South Philly.

With those kind of numbers you’d expect a shootout. But instead, Philly took two touchdowns and a stellar defensive effort to best the Falcons 24-15.

Ryan Mathews was an absolute beast (fantasy owners take notice) as the Eagles possessed the ball for 38:10in gametime.

Carson Wentz acted as a game manager (25-for-36 for 231 yards)the Eagles bent but didn’t break around Julio Jones on defense. They created excellent pressure on Matt Ryan and limited the explosiveness of Devonta Freeman.

Unlike in previous Eagles’ losses that saw them needing a touchdown with minutes to go to comeback and win, it was the defense on the field, up one possession, needing to stop the Falcons to preserve a ‘W.’ After an offensive pass interference call, the Eagles made a key stop on third down, and even more clutch stop when a pass to Julio Jones hit the turf on fourth down giving the offense the ball left.

With 2:19 left to play Philly the Eagles gained just enough yardage to set up a Caleb Sturgis 44-yard field goal to put the game out of reach (previously ahead 21-15).

Here’s a look back at three things we saw in the victory, lifting Philly to 5-4.

Just as they planned it

The Eagles ran 13 plays for 81 yards according to Doug Pederson’s west-coast offense script to open the game — after forcing a Falcons punt — and the Birds combined short passes and Ryan Matthews power to punch into the end zone on a Mathews run to go up 7-0 in the first.

After another stout defensive effort, Wentz led Philly into Atlanta territorybut a missed 44-yard Caleb Sturgis field goal kept the score a one touchdown spread.

The Falcons took advantage of the opportunity, going deep to Julio Jones 29-yard bomb to set them up deep in Eagles territory. Philly held and allowed only a Matt Bryant field goal to cut things to 7-3.

Another script looked to be working in the Eagle’s second-half opening drive. The team marched — thanks in large part to screens and shifty runs by Darren Sproles — all the way to the Atlanta 11-yard line (73 yards)but a Jason Kelce penalty slowed the Birds’ drive to a halt and resulted in a 29-yard field goal by Sturgis to put the Eagles up 10-6 midway trough the third.

Ground game

Mathews broke open a 21-yard run up the middle on first down to open Philly’s final drive of the first half. Playing with the motivation of a running back relegated to back up (behindDarren Sproles who was introduced as the starter pregame), the back was featured on the field for the majority of Philadelphia’s plays and gained 108 yards on 19 rushes, caught two passes for 30 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.

Mixed in were great efforts from Wendell Smallwood (13 rushes for 70 yards) and Sproles (eight catches for 57 yards).

​In a very long drive crossing into the fourth quarter, Doug Pederson’s play-calling skills once again came under scrutiny when, at the one-inch line, he called an outside run for Mathews who got stuffed at the 2-yardline. The Eagles settled for a chip shot field goal and a 13-9 advantage.

Later in the fourth trailing by two, the Eagles put together another long drive thanks to several sort dump off passes to Sproles. A pass interference call near the goalline on Atlanta set up the Eagles with a first and goal, and Mathews did the rest punching in his second touchdown run and putting Philly up (after a Mathews 2-point conversion) 21-15.

Defensive statement

After allowing the Falcons to convert their first third down late in the third quarter (a slant to Jones who caught 10 passes for 135 yards), the Eagles hunkered down in the red zone using two negative plays — a tackle for loss by Malcolm Jenkins and sack by Connor Barwin — to hold Atlanta to a 43-yard field goal.

​Atlanta’s defense struck as well in the first half, with the Eagles driving inside two minutes and Wentz dropping back, a fumble recovered by the Falcons gave them one last chance to tack on a few points. But a few key defensive plays, one of which was a Fletcher Cox sack of Matt Ryan held them to a missed field goal.

In the third, the Eagles defense recovered after allowing a Jones bomb by tightening up in the red zone and holding Bryant to a short field goal, chipping into Philly’s lead — now 10-9.

The biggest lapse came when Taylor Gabriel beat Leodis McKelvinon a deep bomb early in the fourth quarter, catching a 76-yard touchdown on a streak toward the end zone. The Falcons missed the extra point to lead 15-13.

For good measure, McKelvin earned redemptionwith a late fourth-down interception.

The win is a statement for the defense against a Falcons offense averaging previously 33.9 points per game previously.

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