Punches flew as the tension rose to a fever pitch before the start of the Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons Monday night season opener. Eagles linebacker, Jeremiah Trotter, and Falcons defensive back, Kevin Mathis, could not handle their anticipation for the start of what was to be an all-around shaky game. Both Trotter and Mathis received ejections prior to kickoff for fighting.
Right from the start, the Atlanta crowd shook the stadium with pure volume in support of their home team. The Eagles seemed to be intimidated by the passionate Atlanta crowd and players throughout the entire first quarter.
The elusive Falcons quarterback, Michael Vick, and slippery running back, Warrick Dunn tore-apart the Eagles defense in the beginning stages of the game. The first two touchdowns were put on the board by Vick and Falcons fullback, T.J. Duckett.
Immediately facing a two touchdown deficit by the end of the first quarter created serious doubts for Eagles fans and players alike. The Falcons were simply overpowering the Eagles on both sides of the field.
Philadelphia, however, settled down somewhat and proved why they were true Super Bowl contenders, even if they were playing sloppily. They finally answered the Falcons with a touchdown from quarterback Donovan McNabb to Eagles utility man Brian Westbrook.
The score was 14-7 with the Falcons in the lead. With 11 minutes left in the first half, there was plenty for both of these explosive teams to take a serious lead.
The Eagles defense eventually came alive leading into the second half and throughout the rest of the game. Standing out as usual was Eagles defensive star, Brian Dawkins, who seemed undistracted by the crowd and the initial lead imposed by the Falcons. With Dawkins leading the charge, the Eagles defense reeked havoc creating turnovers and refusing to let the Falcons score once again.
The Falcons defense, however, was just as strong continuously shaking the Eagles usually solid offensive strategy. Patrick Kerney, Falcons defensive end, and DeAngelo Hall, Falcons cornerback, were two players in particular that shut down the Eagles offense.
Throughout the game, however, there were little rays of sunshine when the ball would get in the hands of Eagles controversial wide receiver, Terrell Owens, and running back Brian Westbrook. It was Donovan McNabb who seemed to struggle the most.
McNabb took an early blow to his chest and it appeared as if he was not the same after that. A confusing move was that McNabb did not run the ball one time Monday night, normally a serious threat to other teams.
For Eagles fans, this game could just be an early-season fluke. One thing painfully obvious we saw Monday night was that the Eagles will not win if Donovan McNabb isn’t playing at his usual superstar level. The Eagles chemistry must improve if they are to reach “destination Detroit” for the super bowl.