A valiant effort from Zach Ertz, Carson Wentz and the entire Philadelphia Eagles roster fell just short of a spectacular comeback win on Sunday night in a hard-fought battle with the Atlanta Falcons. Clawing their way back from a 17-6 second half deficit, the Eagles looked as if they were going to complete their comeback when Wentz bulldozed his way into the endzone on a quarterback sneak and subsequently found No. 86 for the two-point conversion to give Philly a 20-17 lead with just over three minutes remaining.
The Eagles defense played a brilliant game all night long, battling one of the league’s more dynamic offenses, often wreaking havoc on Matt Ryan in the backfield. Jim Schwartz’s aggressive game plan forced three interceptions, which kept Philly in the game. However, Julio Jones proved why he is one of the best receivers in the NFL, taking a screen pass 54 yards to the house to retake the lead roughly one minute after conceding it.
The quick strike, however, left the Eagles with one last chance to put together a game-winning drive in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Wentz started the drive by connecting with Nelson Agholor for a solid eight-yard gain and stay in front of the chains. Agholor led the Eagles in receiving with 107 yards, including a four-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
A third-down completion to Darren Sproles kept the drive alive as the Eagles approached midfield, needing a touchdown to overcome their 24-20 deficit. On the ensuing set of downs, a pair of incompletions and a Vic Beasley sack placed the Eagles in a 4th-and-14 situation with just over one minute to play.
Wentz and Agholor linked up once again in a big way, this time connecting down the deep left side of the field for 43 yards and a first down inside the Falcons’ 20-yard line.
Unfortunately for Philly, the Falcons’ defense stood tall from there and didn’t allow another first down. On 4th-and-8, Wentz looked to Ertz, who finished the game with 72 yards on eight catches, to extend the drive and keep the game alive. They connected on a curl route, and it appeared the Zach’s forward progress may have been enough to get the first down and move the chains. But after the review, it was ruled that No. 86 came up just a few inches short of the line to gain, and the Atlanta offense would kneel down to end the game.
“I had a 10-yard route, and I came back to the ball. I should have run it a little deeper just knowing the situation,” Ertz said. “I’m disappointed in myself. The team counts on me to make the play on fourth down. We had plenty of time. We just came up a little short.”
The result wasn’t what Philly had hoped for on this road trip, but the team showed tons of fight all night as they persevered through a number of injuries. Throughout the course of the game, Dallas Goedert, DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and Tim Jernigan left with injuries, while Wentz, Agholor and Jason Kelce all missed some time due to an injury before returning to action.
Despite all that, the Eagles fought to the end as they have many times in the past few seasons, and they left everything out on the field. Unfortunately, the fell just short of a win, and while this loss will sting, the team can be proud of the effort and grit that they showed on Sunday night. There are still 14 more games to play, and if Philly replicates their effort and intensity from Sunday night, the results will follow.
Next week, Philly returns home to face the Detroit Lions at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday on FOX.