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NFL: Trick play ignites Philly

Nicholas Whitney, Staff Writer

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The ninety-ninth season of the National Football League opened last Thursday when the defending champion, the Philadelphia Eagles, defeated the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 18 to 12.

The Eagles running back Jay Ajayi rushed for two touchdowns and quarterback Nick Foles caught a pass in the “Philly Special 2.0.” A trick play ignited the previously quiet Eagles offense to lead them to victory on Thursday night. Originally, the Eagles ran the “Philly Special” against the Patriots in the “Big Game” last year.

The game was initially delayed due to weather in Philadelphia, but that didn’t stop the thousands of Eagles fans ready to cheer on their championship team. Though the Eagles escaped with a win, the game did not go as smoothly as they had anticipated. Foles missed his targets on many crucial third-downs, which hurt momentum and even earned “boos” from the crowd.

Foles threw 19/34 (55.9 percent), 117 yards (3.3 average), 0 TD, 1 INT, and a 50.7 passer rating. Despite the victory, these numbers should have the Eagles nervous when they face tougher opponents.

It is important to note that wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was not in the line-up during the game and his absence was felt on the field. Also quarterback Carson Wentz, who has not yet been cleared for contact, continued to sit on the sidelines.

On the other side of the field, the Atlanta Falcons found themselves in an all too familiar position in the season opener. Quarterback Matt Ryan continued to prove that he is not the quarterback he was two years ago, when he won the league MVP.

With help from wide receiver Julio Jones, Ryan continually showed his ability to get the ball down the field. But Ryan has consistently been unable to convert a solid drive into a touchdown once he reaches the red zone, which was evident by the fact that the Falcons successfully converted only one of their five trips to the red zone.

The game ended almost exactly the same as the Divisional Playoff game last year; the Falcons, in the red zone, fail to score a touchdown as the clock runs out.

Though this is only the first game, this win puts the Eagles in a very good position when looking at the post season right out of the gate. This victory gives the Eagles a crucial tie-breaker advantage against another potential playoff team and increases their odds of winning their next two games coming against lower-caliber teams, like Tampa Bay and Indianapolis.

They will have the opportunity to rack up more wins while their star quarterback continues to recover.

Atlanta, on the other hand, is set to face Carolina and New Orleans next, both of which are potential playoff teams in the division. If they fail to win one of those two games, it will be difficult for them to climb back into a playoff position as the season goes on.

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NFL: Trick play ignites Philly