Not Quite Put Away

  Fourth-quarter update: The Eagles just blew a huge chance to put this game away. They drove to the Falcons' 1 but -- stop me if you've heard this before -- failed to score a touchdown, ending up with an 18-yard David Akers field goal and a 20-7 lead.

    L.J. Smith left the field with a concussion after a gruesome hit from Lawyer Milloy, well after the ball had bounced away. Milloy was penalized but not ejected. There is a strong chance he will face supplemental discipline from the NFL.

   As so often happens, the Eagles' failure to take control led to the Falcons coming up with their best drive of the game, 82 yards on 14 plays, Matt Ryan hitting Roddy White for his second TD of the game with 3:55 left.


 Updating again: All kinds of rhythm. Lousy with rhythm, suddenly. The Eagles' offense has driven for points on three successive drives, and the Birds lead Atlanta 17-7 midway through the third quarter. 

  Sixty-nine yards on 8 plays, culminating in a lovely 16-yard TD run by Brian Westbrook, who has 88 yards on just 13 carries.


This just in: The Eagles have rhythm, finally. Who could ask for anything more?

Nine plays, 60 yards, Donovan McNabb on a (gasp!) QB draw for a 3-yard TD that ties the score at 7. Drive highlights were a 22-yard completion to DeSean Jackson on a nice rollout play and a 14-yard McNabb scramble as John Abraham nipped at his heels. 

  Then the Eagles get the ball back on their 12 with 45 seconds left in the half and engineer their sharpest drive of the day, 70 yards in 6 plays plus one crucial hands to the face penalty to Kindal Moorehead, for dehelmeting Max Jean-Gilles. That helmet is too big to ignore, when it's rolling around out there like the Great Pumpkin.

   The Eagles get a 36-yard David Akers field goal for a 10-7 halftime lead.



  Updating the first quarter update: On third and 10 from the Falcons' 45, the Eagles got no pressure on Matt Ryan, who hit speedy Roddy White on a crossing pattern. White took the ball to the house and the Falcons had a 7-0 lead.


          Updating at the end of a frustrating first quarter: No points for either team and no momentum for the Eagles' offense, which talked all week about establishing rhythm but then came out trying complex pass plays almost every snap -- few runs, no quick slants.

    Fans got excercised, justifiably, when the only time the Birds got pressure on Matt Ryan early, Trent Cole was called for roughing the passer. It seemed on replays that Cole made a clean hit, with no helmet-to-helmet contact, reaching Ryan just as he released the ball. He didn't drive Ryan into the turf.

    The Birds' defense seems to have a good gameplan. Too bad the offense is trying to reinvent football every series.



       Turns out reporters' eyes did not deceive them Thursday and Friday.

    Wideout Reggie Brown took a minimal role in practice as he worked to recover from a groin injury that caused him to miss the San Francisco game. Eagles coach Andy Reid tried Friday to spin that as extreme caution, leaving open the possibility that Brown would play today against the Falcons, but now that the game is nigh, Brown is inactive. That should ensure a decent role for Hank Baskett, who has really picked up his play in his third NFL season.

    Also, linebacker Tracy White, picked up to boost the Eagles' special teams, is active. He will wear Jeremiah Trotter's old No. 54. Fullback Kyle Eckel, added this past week, is not active.

   For the Falcons, it's notable that rookie left offensive tackle Sam Baker is inactive, and will be replaced in the starting lineup by Todd Weiner. Regular starting corner Brent Grimes is active but will not start; Dominique Foxworth gets the nod there.

   Stay tuned for updates.