'D' gives Eagles boost on goal-line stand

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The Eagles' defense stops Falcons RB Jason Snelling near the goal line in the second quarter of Sunday's win. (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)

The Eagles outplayed the Falcons in pretty much every aspect in the first half.

Yet, with 1:57 left in the second quarter, Atlanta was 7 yards away from cutting the Birds' lead to 13-7 and seizing momentum going into halftime.

That's when the Eagles' defense stepped up with a big-time stand, stopping the Falcons on four straight plays to maintain the 13-point lead.

The offense would go 80 yards on 12 plays on the first drive of the third quarter to widen the gap to 20-0.

I went back and looked at the stand, specifically the three plays from inside the 2-yard-line. Just a great team effort from the Birds.

Here's the breakdown:

1st-and-goal from the 7

After the Eagles committed back-to-back personal foul penalties (on Quintin Demps and Sean Jones), the Falcons handed off to running back Jason Snelling, who found a hole up the middle, picking up 6 yards before he was slowed down by a group of Eagles, including Chris Gocong, Jeremiah Trotter, Quintin Mikell and Jones.

2nd-and-goal from the 1

The Falcons decided to switch things up, putting Snelling in the shotgun for a direct snap. The Eagles went with their goal line defense, playing with six linemen, two linebackers, two cornerbacks and Jones at safety. Mike Patterson lined up third from the right and did a teriffic job of shedding his blocker, meeting Snelling at the line of scrimmage, before getting some help from Will Witherspoon and Jones.

3rd-and-goal from the 1

The Falcons went with no receivers, Snelling in the backfield with a fullback and Redman under center. The Eagles continued with six linemen, two linebackers and three defensive backs. If you have the game DVR'd or see the replay, check out No. 54. Trotter starts in the end zone and then comes flying towards the line of scrimmage, meeting Snelling before his teammates joined him on the stuff. Witherspoon, Antonio Dixon and Sheldon Brown were among the Eagles who helped out Trotter to force a fourth down.

4th-and-goal from the 2

Mike Smith decided to gamble. The Falcons were a ridiculous 11-for-13 on fourth down going into the play. They set up in the I, again with no wide receivers. The Eagles employed the same defense as the previous play. Would Atlanta trust Chris Redman to throw the ball in such a critical spot? Probably not. But would they be willing to run it again after being stuffed on consecutive plays? The answer was yes. Trotter and Dixon were behind the line of scrimmage as Snelling took the handoff. He was forced to bounce it to the right, where Witherspoon tripped him up and Mikell finished him off short of the goal line.

Sean McDermott pumped his first, and the boos rained down in Atlanta.

A big momentum-shifter and a great effort from the 'D' as the Birds took control in the second half and rolled to a 34-7 victory.

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