Michael Vick appeared to be well on his way to leading his Philadelphia Eagles to a big win on the road against his old team in Atlanta. And then Vick went down, and the story became the Falcons comeback engineered by Matt Ryan.
Ryan completed 17 of 28 passes for 195 yards and four touchdowns as the Falcons came back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter and beat the Eagles 35-31. It was a highly entertaining game, a major statement for the Falcons that they’re contenders in the NFC, and a disappointing loss for the Eagles.
“It was a wild one for sure but we hung in there — I think everybody hung in there,” Ryan said afterward. “You just keep getting up. There’s a lot of tough guys on this football team.”
Although Vick’s injury was a major story coming out of the game, the loss can’t be blamed on that: Backup Mike Kafka came on in Vick’s place and played very well, completing his first seven passes, for 72 yards.
Unfortunately, Kafka’s last two passes fell incomplete: On one, Kafka hit Jeremy Maclin in the hands on a fourth down with the Eagles driving late in the fourth quarter, only to have Maclin drop it. The other incompletion was a Hail Mary into the end zone on the last play of the game.
It’s a shame that Maclin’s drop may overshadow a huge game: He caught 13 passes for 171 yards. But that late drop is a pass he’ll wish he could have back.
Ryan’s favorite receiver for the game was tight end Tony Gonzalez, who caught seven passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns. And Michael Turner had a big day, carrying 21 times for 114 yards and also racing 32 yards on his only catch.
With that, the Falcons and Eagles are both 1-1, and both in the middle of what looks like a very competitive NFC.