Paul Domowitch: Maclin steps up for injured Jackson
As DeSean Jackson lay on the ground after his vicious collision with Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson early in the second quarter, his offensive teammates stood a few feet away trying to process what they had just witnessed.
"When you see stuff like that, it just makes you step back and think," said wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. "I don't wish that upon anybody, especially one of my teammates."
It makes you step back and think, but not for very long, because, like war, the injured are carried off and the battle continues and players have no choice but to compose themselves and get their heads - and bodies - back in the game.
Jackson, who suffered a concussion on the play, is not some insignificant, easy-to-replace foot soldier. He is one of the game's most dangerous playmakers. He proved that again yesterday by scoring two first-quarter touchdowns that gave the Eagles an early 14-0 lead.
He ran for a 31-yard touchdown on a nifty end-around on the Eagles' second play from scrimmage, then had a 34-yard catch and run for another score on the Eagles' second possession.
His injury, which likely will keep him out of next week's game against the Tennessee Titans, could have been devastating. But the ever-resilient Eagles barely missed a step in the 31-17 victory.
"When you lose a guy on offense, everybody else has to elevate their game," Maclin said. "Especially a dynamic guy like DeSean. Everybody else has to pick up their game. We have playmakers all around this offense."
Nobody elevated their game any higher in Jackson's absence than Maclin, who had seven catches for a career-high 159 yards and two touchdowns against the Falcons.
Maclin's first score came on an 8-yard diving catch at the goal line with 7 minutes, 34 seconds left in the second quarter that put the Eagles up 21-0. He added an 83-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter that made it 28-10. His second score came just after the Falcons had closed the gap to 21-10 on a 26-yard Matt Bryant field goal.
"That [second touchdown] was huge," Maclin said. "They had just scored and they were stopping the bleeding a little bit. I think that play definitely helped us."
The Eagles, who had been attacking the Falcons' aggressive defense with misdirection plays much of the afternoon, faked an end-around to wide receiver Jason Avant that got both cornerback Christopher Owens and safety Thomas DeCoud to bite, leaving Maclin free down the left sideline.
Quarterback Kevin Kolb, who had an outstanding game, completing 23 of 29 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns, put the ball in Maclin's hands and he raced to the end zone for his sixth TD reception of the young season.
"That's the thing about us," Maclin said. "We're going to be us no matter what. We're going to be who we are. We're going to throw the football, run the football. We're going to continue to attack you, continue to look for big plays no matter what personnel we run out there."
Coach Andy Reid gave his offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, the credit for the play call on Maclin's second touchdown.
"That was a great call by Marty," he said. "We had the wind in our face at the time, so we ran the ball on the first play [a 3-yard loss by LeSean McCoy], and then we came back and took a shot there.
"We got that corner [Owens] to freeze. He hesitated and Maclin got past him. Then Kevin double-hitched it and was able to get it out with some good power because it was an aggressive wind."
In 15-plus minutes with Jackson yesterday, the Eagles racked up 152 net yards, averaging 10.1 yards per play. In 45 minutes without him, they kept rolling, collecting 322 yards in the final three quarters and averaging 6.1 yards per play.
With Jackson out, the Eagles moved Jason Avant from the slot to the outside, plugged in rookie Chad Hall and continued to attack the Falcons out of three-wide receiver sets.
Avant had his most productive game of the season, catching five passes for 62 yards. Hall, who was signed off the practice squad 2 weeks ago after wide receiver Riley Cooper suffered a concussion in the Washington game, had a 5-yard reception and a 5-yard run.
"We don't change no matter who's out there," Avant said. "Our goal, our coaches' goal, is to be aggressive.
"I don't get those [outside] reps [in practice]. I'm always on the inside. I see all the plays. But you still have to run them. I just wanted to get in there and play as hard as I can. And when I get an opportunity, take advantage of it. Be DeSean and make the play."
-- To the Eagles' much-maligned special-teams coverage units, which played pretty well against the Falcons. After giving up five kickoff returns of 35-plus yards in the first five games, they held Falcons' kick returner Eric Weems to 23.3 yards per return. They gave up 18-yard punt return to Weems, but it came on the end of a 53-yard Sav Rocca punt that had just 3.73-seconds hang time.
-- To defensive tackles Antonio Dixon and Trevor Laws, who filled in for injured Brodrick Bunkley and turned in solid performances. Dixon played a big role in the Eagles' ability to shut down the Falcons' ground game, which entered the game ranked second in the NFL. Laws did a good job pressuring quarterback Matt Ryan.
Why the Eagles didn't use their final timeout on Matt Ryan's 1-yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez at the end of the first half when Ellis Hobbs found himself matched up all alone on Gonzalez on the left side. Gonzalez easily was able to get inside position on Hobbs. Gonzalez had just three receptions for 19 yards, but two of his catches were for touchdowns.
DID YOU NOTICE?
-- With Brodrick Bunkley out with an elbow injury, the Eagles activated just three defensive tackles yesterday - Mike Patterson, Antonio Dixon and Trevor Laws.
-- Falcons right end John Abraham got sucked inside by the fake to LeSean McCoy on DeSean Jackson's 31-yard end-around for a touchdown on the Eagles' first possession.
-- The Eagles gave King Dunlap a lot of help with John Abraham, but the left tackle held up pretty well a week after giving up three sacks.
-- A missed tackle by safety Nate Allen on Michael Jenkins' 42-yard first-quarter catch added about 15 yards to the end of the play.
-- The two excellent pass-breakups by Asante Samuel on the Falcons' second possession. He had a near-interception on a first-down pass to Michael Jenkins, then broke up a third-and-10 throw to Jenkins with a nifty reach-around move.
-- LeSean McCoy chipped Abraham to give Kevin Kolb the necessary time to hit Jackson with a 34-yard first-quarter touchdown pass.
-- Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott didn't make any changes to his nickel package, sticking with linebackers Stewart Bradley and Ernie Sims. Bradley also played in the six-defensive back, one-linebacker dime package.
-- The nice block by right tackle Winston Justice on Kolb's successful quarterback sneak on a third-and-1 on their third touchdown drive.
-- Brent Celek got behind middle linebacker Curtis Lofton on a seam route late in the second quarter, but Kolb made one of the few mistakes he made all afternoon, underthrowing the pass and allowing Lofton to get a hand on it and tip it. Safety William Moore came up with the interception. Kolb made things worse at the end of Moore's 34-yard return, when he was called for a horse-collar tackle, which gave the Falcons a first down at the Eagles' 31-yard line.
-- The block by fullback Owen Schmitt on John Abraham on Kolb's 83-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin in the third quarter. If he doesn't take Abraham out, Kolb never has the time to make the throw.
LeSean McCoy faked Falcons linebacker Stephen Nicholas out of his jock on a fourth-quarter toss play. Running left, McCoy cut back to the right and left Nicholas grabbing at air.
-- The injury to Jackson didn't dissuade the Eagles from running three-wide receiver formations. They simply plugged in Chad Hall and get going with the three-wide sets until the fourth quarter, when they switched to two-WR, two-RB sets and ran the ball.
-- For the second time in the last three games, the Eagles gave up just one sack.
BY THE NUMBERS
-- In his last 2 starts, Kevin Kolb has completed 73.3 percent of his passes and has a 118.7 passer rating.
-- For the first time in his career, David Akers missed 3 field goal attempts in the same game. He was wide left on a pair of 37-yarders and a 47-yarder, all down the same end of the field.
-- DeSean Jackson became the first player in Eagles history to score on a 30-plus yard run and reception in the same quarter, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It was the second time in his career that Jackson has had rushing and receiving touchdowns in the same game.
-- For the second straight game, the Eagles scored a touchdown on their first possession. They are 35-9 since 2000 when they've scored a TD on their first possession.
-- The Eagles have held two of their last three opponents to 17 points or less after doing it just twice in their previous 13 games dating back to last season.
-- The Eagles have won eight of their last nine meetings with the Falcons.
-- The Eagles have won 22 straight games when they've led at the half, including 4 this season. They are 89-14 under Andy Reid with halftime leads.
-- The Eagles have just 5 giveaways in their first 6 games. At this point last year, they had 7.
-- The Eagles converted just 1 of 4 red-zone opportunities into touchdowns. In their first 5 games, they were 9-for-12.
-- In their last two games, the Eagles defense has allowed just 3.4 yards per carry on the ground. In their first 4 games, they had allowed 4.4.
-- Ih the first six games, opposing quarterbacks have just a 72.3 passer rating and .545 completion percentage against the Eagles.
-- LeSean McCoy had five rushing attempts for negative yardage. That's two more than he had in the first five games.
-- Twelve of Sav Rocca's 30 punts have traveled 53 yards or more. He's got just one touchback.
-- The Eagles converted 7 of 14 third-down opportunities against the Falcons after converting just 8 of 26 in their previous 2 games.