Falcons look to end skid vs. Eagles in home openerReuters | Atlanta | Updated: 12-09-2019 07:02 IST | Created: 12-09-2019 07:00 IST
Though the Philadelphia Eagles have enjoyed some home success against Atlanta in recent years, they know beating the Falcons on the road is a much tougher task. Looking to build on a comeback victory from their opener, the visiting Eagles try to send the Falcons to their first 0-2 start in 12 seasons on Sunday night.
After rallying from a 17-0 second-quarter deficit to beat Washington 32-27 last weekend and winning its last three meetings (including playoffs) with Atlanta, Philadelphia has reason to feel confident heading into this prime-time matchup. It also helps that the Falcons are still a little shell-shocked from an ugly 28-12 opening loss at Minnesota. Then again, those three straight Eagles all wins in this series came in Philadelphia, most recently 18-12 in the 2018 season opener. The Falcons have won the last two matchups in Atlanta, most recently in coach Dan Quinn's debut in 2015. They've also won 10 of their last 11 home openers.
"They're a different team when they play at home in front of their crowd," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said during Wednesday's press conference. "That's why you can't go off last week ... It's going to be a different atmosphere for us. It's going to be a different team that we're going to see." While the Eagles are 2-5 at Atlanta since 1997, and Pederson did a nice job of paying the host some lip service, the Falcons still must be better than they were against Minnesota.
Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 304 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns with his team down 28-0, but was also picked off twice and sacked four times. Running back Devonta Freeman managed just 19 yards and lost a fumble on eight carries, while the Atlanta defense yielded 172 rushing yards to the Vikings. The defeat obviously didn't sit well with Quinn, but he's not about to abandon the plan he has for the Falcons, or their quest to return to the playoffs after last season's 7-9 disappointment.
"I don't want to make (it about) one game ... that's not indicative of who I think we will be. Or, who we were in that game," said Quinn, who is trying to keep the Falcons from going 0-2 for the first time since 2007. "We really believe in our process. We totally do. We're committed to it, and we'll play well because of it."
That means stopping an Eagles offense that apparently cannot be kept down long. Against the Redskins, Carson Wentz went 28 of 39 for 313 yards with three touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns went to DeSean Jackson, for 51 and 53 yards, while he posted 154 yards on eight receptions. Philadelphia, however, needs to buckle down after giving up 370 passing yards to the Redskins. The Eagles recorded only one sack, and could be hurting up front with the loss of former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Malik Jackson to a season-ending foot injury. Fellow defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (toe) and defensive end Derek Barnett (shoulder) were limited at practice Wednesday.
Two of Ryan's three career wins against the Eagles have come at home, but he's posted just an 84.1 passer rating in eight overall meetings. In those eight, he's completed 58.5 percent of his passes, with 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Atlanta placed 2019 first-round guard Chris Lindstrom on injured reserve due to a broken foot. Receiver Russell Gage is dealing with a concussion.
The Eagles last started 2-0 in 2016.