In a bit of a shocker and a great start to Monday Night Football, the Atlanta Falcons bested the 26-24.
Despite all the hype around his going against one of the NFL’s bottom pass defenses, Sam Bradford ended up with two costly interceptions in the close game despite a pretty good stat line. Matt Ryan finished with two interceptions as well, but made up for it with two big touchdowns to Julio Jones.
For the Eagles, it was the running back play (and Jordan Matthews’ 102 receiving yards) which really kept the contest close. I say running back play instead of ground game, because there wasn’t much of that. In fact, the Eagles ran the ball only 16 times compared to their 52 pass attempts.
16 attempts is nothing, especially for last year’s leading rusher DeMarco Murray; and he only ended up with eight of those 16 after sharing five with Darren Sproles and the other three with Ryan Matthews.
Murray may have had the most attempts, but his stats don’t reflect that. Murray finished the game with only nine yards from scrimmage and a long of eight. In other words, Murray had one carry for eight yards and then seven other carries for a total of one yard. Sproles really had to carry the backfield with 50 yards over his five touches.
Sproles was also a big part of the air game, finishing with 76 receiving yards on seven receptions behind only Jordan Matthews. Ryan Matthews chimed in with an additional 24 yards through the air, and Murray added only 11, but caught Bradford’s only passing TD of the night.
For those of you who thought that Murray would be the work horse of this offseason, I may have some bad news. Obviously the Eagles need to make some adjustments—and Kelly certainly will—but if tonight was any indicator, the trio of running backs will be getting a relatively equal amount of work moving forward. In fact, after completely outshining Murray, Sproles may emerge as the Eagles go-to moving forward.
A glimpse of hope for Murray’s fantasy owners: despite his poor yardage, Murray did finish with a touchdown through the air and one on the ground.
Maybe there’s hope after all for that early selection.