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An Important Defeat of the Falcons

By Ryan Shute, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

The 32nd overall meeting between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons will take place at Lincoln Financial Field this Sunday at 1 p.m. The Eagles hold the series lead with a record of 17-14-1.

The Eagles have won eight of the last twelve meetings, with six of those wins coming at home. But the Eagles are looking to get off their current losing streak, as the Falcons have won the previous three matchups.

Last season the two met in Week 1 on Monday Night Football, where it seemed the Eagles slept through the first half trailing Atlanta 20-3.

The second half would see the Birds wake up and respond by scoring three touchdowns, two by their new big free agent running back DeMarco Murray and one by another newly acquired running back Ryan Mathews, giving the Eagles a 24-23 lead with 8:37 left in the game.

Matt Bryant would kick his fourth filed goal of the game, this one being from 47 yards out, to regain the lead for the Falcons.

On the ensuing possession, the Eagles would travel 54 yards to the Atlanta 26 yard-line, in hopes kicker Cody Parkey would knock down a 44-yard attempt and put the Eagles back up in the see-saw battle. Parkey missed his kick wide right and unfortunately that would be the last scoring opportunity the Eagles would have on the evening as they suffered the two-point defeat of 26-24.

Going back a little further into the history books, you will see the Eagles ran into the Falcons in three huge playoff games. Two of those playoff games came against a hated Atlanta quarterback that would eventually become a fan favorite in Philadelphia, Michael Vick.

In the wild card round of the 2002 postseason, Vick led the Falcons to a huge upset over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau field, setting them up with a date with the Eagles in the divisional round.

The Eagles defensive line would suffocate Vick getting sacks from Corey Simon, Darwin Walker, and Brandon Whiting.

The defense would also force Vick into throwing two interceptions, one of which was picked off by corner back Bobby Taylor who returned it for a 39 yard touchdown, as the Eagles would go on to eliminate the Falcons 20-6. The win would earn the Eagles a spot in their second of four consecutive NFC Championship Game appearances.

Speaking of NFC Championship Games, the two would meet again in that event in January of 2005.

On that afternoon, the Eagles defense again would refuse to take a ride on the Michael Vick Experience and sack him four times, twice by defensive lineman Derrick Burgess and his line mates Jevon Kearse and Hollis Thomas would record one sack a piece.

The most notable play of the game would take place in the second quarter with the Eagles leading the game 14-3 and Atlanta having a 1st and 10 at the Philadelphia 40 yard-line. Vick completed a pass to his tight end Alge Crumpler at the Philadelphia 10 to give the Falcons a 1st and goal. But it wasn't the catch that was spectacular, it was safety Brian Dawkins throwing his body into Crumpler for an annihilating hit that would set the tone for the remainder of the day.

The Falcons would get a rushing touchdown from Warrick Dunn to finish off that drive and the scoring for the half, but the Eagles would run off 13 unanswered points after intermission.

Tight end Chad Lewis would catch his second touchdown of the day from quarterback Donovan McNabb with 3:21 left in the fourth quarter to seal the 27-10 victory, getting the Eagles the 2004 NFC Title and punching their ticket to Jacksonville to compete in Super Bowl XXXIX.  

It may seem to some that this NFC Championship just happened  yesterday, but the truth is it was almost twelve years ago since the fan base was worked up into that frenzy. There is no question that win is one of the most important for the Eagles franchise. But the question is how close are the Eagles to their next important franchise victory? It may not be an NFC Championship Game on Sunday or even a playoff game for that matter. But after starting the season 3-0 and now falling to 4-4, it seems like this week's game may be pretty important for the Birds in the 2016 season. 

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