Offensively, the main key here was not to turn the ball over and move the ball down field in the air even in the windy conditions.
So why did both sides of the ball play so well?
Offensively, in a rare occurrence, they ran the ball more (33 times) than they passed it (18). The windy conditions certainly were a factor but quarterback Donovan McNabb was able to get the ball down field for the second straight week on a deep pass to reserve receiver Greg Lewis. That 45-yard pass play set up tight end Chad Lewis’s first of two touchdown passes in the game.
You have to be pleased with the running game if you’re an Eagles’ fan. So many pundits thought the Falcons had a big advantage in that department coming in to the game. As it turned out, the Eagles out-rushed them by close to 60 yards. That’s something they can take to the next round with confidence, as Atlanta was one of the top rushing offenses in the NFL this season.
You also have to like the play calling by head coach Andy Reid. Once strongly criticized for being too conservative, Reid has been doing a great job of spreading the ball around and he has been taking advantage of matchups and what defenses are showing them. Reid was able to call run plays against Atlanta with Brian Westbrook that worked against certain fronts and they worked to perfection. You also have like the power running by veteran back Dorsey Levens. He basically used the first half of the regular season as his pre-season to get in shape and he has looked better this season than anyone could have imagined from a 34-yard old 230-pound back.
And to top it all off, they did so well offensively without star receiver Terrell Owens.
Defensively, coordinator Jim Johnson’s game plan was pretty easy to see from the start of the contest. They brought at least an extra defender up front and were able to keep Vick from finding rushing lanes. The front seven did a great job of keeping in their gaps and didn’t lose containment except for one mystifying 13-yard run by Vick and on the touch down scamper by veteran back Warrick Dunn. Also keep in mind with all the negative yardage Vick took on the four sacks, that really negates his 26 total rushing yards for the game.
Going in to the game, the Eagles knew if they got Vick in a passing mode, they had a great chance to win. After all, he only had three games of over 200 yards this season. While Vick only threw the ball 24 times, the Eagles possessed the ball almost seven minutes more for the game.
With both sides of the ball revving on all cylinders, it’s on to Jacksonville where they will face their toughest opponent of the season.