Fast starts can work in tandem and the Falcons showed how that relationship works in the first quarter against the Eagles.
After the Falcons drove down the field to open the game and scored, the defense took the field and carried the momentum with them. Behind a tackle for a loss from Thomas DeCoud and a sack of Eagles QB Michael Vick, also by DeCoud, Atlanta forced a three-and-out possession for the dangerous Eagles offense.
Philly's offense wouldn't see the ball again in the first quarter until 23 seconds remained. By that time, Atlanta was up 14-0 and looked to be cruising.
The defense would surrender a TD in the first half, a two-yard run by LeSean McCoy, but they wouldn't give up much more and how they handled McCoy is one of the key reasons.
Entering the game, the Falcons run D was ranked near the bottom of the league. Against the Eagles, they improved that mark a little, holding McCoy to 45 yards rushing on 16 carries and held Vick to 42. Atlanta only allowed 2.8 yards per carry from McCoy, one of the league's best running backs.
Sunday's win is the first time this season the Falcons run defense has allowed less than 100 yards rushing.
Atlanta managed to pursue both McCoy and Vick in the backfield, totaling eight tackles for loss. DeCoud led the team with two in addition to his six tackles, sack and QB hit. When Vick dropped back to pass, the defense continued its pursuit, dropping Vick three times with Kroy Biermann and Vic Beasley Jr. chipping in with DeCoud.
Vick was limited to 191 yards passing with only one touchdown.
The longest play the Falcons defense allowed on the day was a 32-yard gain to DeSean Jackson. The next longest play by the Eagles was for 16 yards.
Though they allowed nearly a 60 percent third-down conversion rate in the first half, the Falcons third-down defense came back to form in the second frame, allowing six conversions on 13 attempts for a 46 percent rate.