Last Updated: 16/09/19 5:48am
Mat Ryan and Julio Jones combined to give Atlanta their first victory of the NFL season
Julio Jones was Atlanta’s Sunday night hero, racking up 106 yards and two touchdowns as the Falcons beat Philadelphia 24-20.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan put three interceptions behind him to come good down the stretch and crucial connect with Jones for a 54-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-3 with just over two minutes remaining.
Philadelphia had looked perfectly placed to claim a second victory over the season when quarterback Carson Wentz scored on a 1-yard touchdown dive .
That capped a 13-play, 73-yard drive that then featured a Zach Ertz two-point conversion pass to give the Eagles a 20-17 lead with 3:13 left on the clock.
But Ryan shook off some rust in the opening three quarters, completing 27 of 43 attempt for 320 yards and three touchdowns, three interceptions) came through with his own heroics, with his favourite target Jones helping to seal the win.
Carson Wentz (#11) dives for a touchdown that gave Philadelphia a late lead
Jones had five receptions for 106 yards and crucially two touchdowns, including the game-winning receiver screen that saw him sprint more than half the field for the pivotal final score.
Victory means the Falcons improve to 1-1, and ensures the Eagles fall to the same record. But only after Wentz had lad a drive to the Atlanta 16-yard line where Ertz was held a yard short on fourth-and-8 with 38 seconds left.
Wentz, who took a shot to the ribs and spent time in concussion protocol during the first half, was 25 of 43 for 231 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He spent most of the game minus his two top receivers Alshon Jeffery (calf) and DeSean Jackson (groin), who left in the first half with injuries.
Calvin Ridley caught eight passes for 105 yards with a touchdown for the Falcons, who went up 3-0 at the 9:28 mark of the first quarter with a 50-yard field goal from Matt Bryant.
Philadelphia tied it in the second quarter on Jake Elliott’s 34-yard field goal before the Falcons took control thanks to Desmond Trufant picked off Wentz for the second time. Five plays Ryan hooked up with a leaping Ridley for a 34-yard touchdown connection to make it 10-3 approaching half-time.
A couple of key defensive plays from Desmond Trufant set the platform for Falcons early lead
Veteran Eagles backup quarterback Josh McCown started the Eagles’ final drive of the first half while Wentz was in concussion protocol and got them into the Atlanta red zone.
Wentz returned, but Philadelphia settled for Elliott’s 41-yard field goal. Things got worse for the Eagles right out of halftime as Corey Clement fumbled the kickoff, which Atlanta recovered at the visitors’ 33.
Three plays later, Ryan found Jones for a 4-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-6.
However, Ronald Darby intercepted Ryan in Falcons’ territory, and Philadelphia went for it on fourth down from the 4-yard line. Wentz drilled a bullet to Nelson Agholor (eight receptions, 107 yards) for the touchdown.
It stayed 17-12 after Wentz failed to score on the 2-point try with 4:57 left in the third – and that was it until the late drama that saw the teams trade late touchdowns that ensured the hosts had their first win of the season
Next weekend Atlanta are on the road when they travel to Indianapolis (1-1) at 6pm while in Week Four the Falcons are back at home when they host the Tennessee Titans (6pm).
Meanwhile Philadelphia will be back at home when they host the Detroit Lions (1-0-1) in one of eight 6pm kick-offs next weekend and in Week Four it’s a quick turnaround as they travel to Green Bay for the Thursday Night Football (1.20am).
Week Two concludes on Monday night with Cleveland’s visit to New York Jets, coverage on Sky Sports Action and Main Event from 1am