(The Sports Xchange) - After building a big lead behind top receiver Julio Jones, the Atlanta Falcons held off a second-half Philadelphia rally to beat the Eagles 26-24 at the Georgia Dome on Monday and give new coach Dan Quinn his first win.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan threw two touchdown passes to Jones in the first half, and kicker Matt Bryant connected on four field goals, including a go-ahead 47-yarder with 6:27 left in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles had two more chances but kicker Cody Parkey missed from 44 yards out and quarterback Sam Bradford threw his second interception of the game on Philadelphia’s final drive.
Jones finished with nine receptions for 141 yards, including a 44-yard reception that set up Bryant’s last field goal.
Trailing 20-3, the Eagles grabbed the momentum early in the third quarter on safety Walter Thurmond’s interception of Ryan, which led to running back DeMarco Murray’s first touchdown as an Eagle, an eight-yard sweep.
Bradford led scoring drives of 95 and 80 yards, and the Eagles took the lead, 24-23, on a one-yard touchdown run by running back Ryan Mathews.
Bradford, in his Eagles debut, finished 36 of 52 for 336 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Murray gained just nine yards on eight carries but scored one touchdown on the ground and another on a five-yard reception.
Ryan completed 23 of 34 passes for 298 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Atlanta rookie running back Tevin Coleman produced 80 yards on 20 carries.
The Falcons dominated the first half, stymieing the Eagles’ defense and moving the ball on the ground and through the air. Philadelphia managed only eight yards on the ground, and Bradford and his receivers rarely looked on the same page.
Meanwhile, Ryan and the Falcons’ offense was rolling.
Jones took a quick screen pass from Ryan and twisted his way into the end zone from four yards out to put the Falcons up 10 with 10:44 to go in the second quarter.
He caught his second touchdown pass of the first half with 45 seconds remaining, sending Atlanta to the locker room up 20-3.
It could have been worse for Philadelphia but linebacker Kiko Alonso made a leaping, one-handed interception in the end zone to thwart Atlanta in the first quarter.
The off season saw Eagles coach Chip Kelly retool his roster ahead of his third season in Philadelphia.
Quarterback Nick Foles was sent to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for Bradford. Running back LeSean McCoy was traded to the Buffalo Bills for Alonso, and Murray was signed from the Dallas Cowboys.
The Falcons hired Quinn, the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks in 2013 and 2014, to replace coach Mike Smith.
Both teams are trying to bounce back from missing the playoffs last season.
The Eagles seemed to be in control of the NFC East for much of last season but folded down the stretch, while the Falcons, thanks to a weak NFC South, were in the playoff hunt until getting blown out by the Carolina Panthers in Week 17.
Editing by Peter Rutherford