The Philadelphia Eagles' offense got going late to power the Super Bowl champions to an 18-12 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday.
The first game of the 2018 NFL season opened with some playful banter after a weather delay pushed the kick-off back 40-plus minutes.
After a lacklustre first quarter that only saw three points on the board, the defenses continued to dominate.
The offense finally caught up late in the second half and powered the Eagles to a tight victory.
The defensive matchups were the highlight of the first half, each team holding the other to only field goals. The offense continued to struggle through the second quarter, ultimately bringing out the boo birds when the Eagles entered the locker room at the break.
Kick-off: Kickers take centre stage
With red zone woes plaguing both teams early, the Eagles and Falcons looked to their kickers for the first points of the game. Matt Bryant was the best looking Falcon on the field, and at the age of 43, he helped secure the low-scoring 6-3 half-time lead for the visitors. Philadelphia went three-and-out and five-and-out before Jake Elliott gave the Eagles their first points of the year.
Too bad that success could not extend into the second half, when Bryant missed his first PAT attempt since 2016 – also against the Eagles. Since the start of that season, the Pro Bowl player is 91 for 91 against any other team, but when facing Philadelphia the prized kicker is 0 for two.
All it took was a Philly Special Part 2 to get the crowd on their feet and the Eagles back in the game. The play came on third-and-five resulting in a huge third-down conversion and ultimately a touchdown to give Philadelphia a 10-6 advantage.
Until then, neither team had noteworthy plays. There were a combined seven three-and-outs and one turnover on downs inside the five-yard line, which came at the very first drive of the game. The second-half resurgence came even later for Atlanta, who got their first touchdown nearly 50 minutes into the game but a missed extra-point attempt continued to keep the game within a score at 12-10.
Rule changes carry confusion, frustration into regular season
Last season, the collective NFL community grappled with the question, 'What is a catch?' This year, the same question is added to a pile of confusion and frustration brought on by new rule changes. There was plenty of it in the preseason, where referees specifically said they would err on the side of caution. These same head-turning penalties carried into the regular season, starting with the updated roughing-the-passer rule prohibiting defenders from using their body weight when tackling the quarterback.
Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett became the first player of the regular season to get a roughing the passer penalty after tackling Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.
Penalties continued to stack up for Atlanta, who finished the game with a total of 15 for 135 yards.