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Recap: Falcons vs. Eagles


First Quarter:The Falcons returned to the run game on Sunday night and running back Michael Turner gained 26 yards on five carries in the Falcons' first possession. The drive stalled after Matt Ryan was sacked on third down and the Falcons gave the ball back to the Eagles for their second series. Atlanta's defense came up with another key third-down stop to give the offense another chance. With the ball back in their hands, Ryan and the offense mixed up the passing and running attack to chip away at Philadelphia's defense before scoring six on a two-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White. Cornerback Dunta Robinson and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon combined for a tackle for loss of the Eagles' running back LeSean McCoy on their first possession to force fourth down.

Second Quarter:Both teams exploded in the second quarter in what may be one of the most exciting quarters of football played anywhere in the NFL this year. The Eagles carried their possession into the quarter and responded with a game-tying touchdown on a five-yard pass from Michael Vick. The Falcons continued their pressure on Vick throughout the quarter and after a field goal from the Eagles gave them the lead 10-7, Atlanta responded with a huge defensive stand. Just before the two-minute warning, defensive tackle Peria Jerry exploded up the middle of the Eagles offensive line to break up a hand off from Vick. The fumble was recovered by defensive end Ray Edwards who raced 64 yards before being caught from behind by the speedy DeSean Jackson. Atlanta scored four plays later on a one-handed touchdown catch by Tony Gonzalez that only a Hall of Famer could make. The touchdown catch gave the Falcons a 14-10 lead that would stand heading into halftime.

Third Quarter:The Falcons' offense stalled to begin the third quarter but the defense answered on Philadelphia's first pass of the third quarter. Cornerback Kelvin Hayden intercepted a Michael Vick pass at Atlanta's 49-yard line. The interception led to Gonzalez' second touchdown of the night, a 17-yard strike, giving the Falcons a 21-10 lead. The rest of the third quarter was all Eagles as they put up 21 unanswered points to close the third quarter.

Fourth Quarter:With the Eagles holding a 31-21, the Falcons needed a big comeback in the final quarter to avoid leaving the Georgia Dome 0-2. Fighting through four sacks he suffered at the hands of the Eagles, Ryan went to work, grabbing a touchdown on the quarter's first possession. The 12-play, 80-yard drive last over six minutes and was vintage Falcons football. Ryan's one-yard touchdown strike to fullback Ovie Mughelli gave the Eagles a three-point advantage. After stopping the Eagles on the next possession, the Falcons took over with just over eight minutes remaining and used a 61-yard burst up the middle from Turner on the second play to flip the field. The momentum stayed with the Falcons who after burning about over three minutes off the clock scored on a Turner 3-yard run. Needing a touchdown, the Eagles got into Atlanta territory before cornerback Chris Owens stuck Philly wide receiver Jeremy Maclin for a 1-yard loss on a screen on third down. An incomplete pass on fourth down gave the Falcons the 35-31 victory.

Play of the Game:With the game going back and forth, Atlanta needed something big to happen on defense to counter some of what was working for the Eagles. Just before halftime, Jerry's forced fumble and Edwards' scoop and run not only gave the Falcons the ball but also an opportunity to take back the lead before the half. It was a play that not only allowed the Falcons to score again, but reminded the Eagles that Atlanta's front four would not cease to be in their backfield.

Player of the Game:Matt Ryan stared down Philly's pass rush and showed great determination to continue to come back from being dropped to the ground repeatedly, but the key player for Atlanta on Sunday was Gonzalez. His 83 yards lead all receivers and his two touchdowns came at critical times. He was also involved in several third-down receptions, including one to set up Turner's touchdown to give Atlanta the lead.

Turning Point:With a slight swing in momentum heading the Falcons' way, the fourth quarter needed a big play to give someone an advantage they could take to victory. After scoring to begin the final quarter to draw within three, the Atlanta defense stopped the Eagles, giving the offense another chance to score. They took advantage, lead by Turner's long scamper. Before the Eagles could blink, the running back shot up the middle of a tired Philly defense and 61 yards later, Turner had put Atlanta in position to score the go-ahead touchdown.

Stat of the Game:The highly mobile Vick rushed for just less than 100 yards in the Eagles' Week 1 victory and many believed he'd do something similar against the Falcons. Atlanta held him to 25 yards rushing, forcing him to beat them with his arm. Their ability to stay disciplined and keep him in the pocket and near the middle of the field helped limit his rushing yards.

Tweet of the Game:Sunday night's game was easily the most exciting of the day and may go down as one of the classics of the 2011 season. He gave fans a little bit of everything and followers of both teams were given a ride through winning and losing and everything in between. When the dust settled the Falcons had the edge and their fans could just exhale and be thankful. @pdsynder summed up what many fans were feeling in the wake of the 35-31 win: "Relief more than jubilation. And that's just fine. #atlphi11"

Quote of the Day:The word in the locker room was about a total team victory and Falcons head coach Mike Smith started it by reminding his team to play together through each and every play: "That was one of our musts: we had to play it one play at a time. When that play was over, we had to move on and try to learn from it. That was the way that we tried to approach this game. Offensively, defensively, special teams, together we won this football game."

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