The Eagles held off the Falcons' late push for a score to win 18-12 in the season opener on Thursday at the Linc.
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Nick Foles didn't play nearly as well against the Falcons on Thursday as he did in the playoffs in January when he completed 23 of 30 passes against them and averaged 8.2 yards per attempt. He averaged just 3.4 yards per attempt and completed only 19 of 34 passes and, for the second straight game against Atlanta, failed to throw a touchdown pass.
Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who was instrumental in the Eagles' win over the Falcons in the playoffs in January, missed Thursday's game as he continues to recover from rotator cuff surgery. Without him, the Eagles needed tight end Zach Ertz and wide receiver Nelson Agholor to pick up the slack. Agholor had eight catches, but for only 33 yards. Ertz had five catches for just 48 yards. No other Eagles receiver had more than two catches.
Jim Schwartz's defense turned in a solid effort against Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Ryan, who was held to 5.8 yards per attempt by the Eagles in the playoffs in January, had one of the lowest passer ratings of his career and had a killer interception in the red zone early in the fourth quarter on a zero blitz on a third-down play.
The Eagles had 10 penalties against the Falcons. That actually was five fewer than Atlanta, but still too many. Several of them were on the Eagles' special teams, and two were bonehead offsides penalties against second-year defensive end Derek Barnett on third-down plays that negated sacks by Chris Long and Fletcher Cox.
The Eagles' ground game struggled much of the evening against the Falcons. Through 3 ½ quarters, they were averaging just 3.3 yards per carry. Then, on a critical third-and-two late in the fourth quarter, Corey Clement sailed through a big gap in the middle of the field and picked up 21 yards. Two plays later, Jay Ajayi put the Eagles ahead with an 11-yard touchdown run around the left side, helped by blocks by center Jason Kelce, left tackle Jason Peters, left guard Stefen Wisniewski and tight end Zach Ertz.
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