Maclin Drops Fourth-Down Pass in Career High Game
ATLANTA (AP) -- Jeremy Maclin said it didn't matter who threw the ball. He should have made the catch. Maclin dropped a fourth-down pass deep in Atlanta territory with less than 2 minutes remaining, ending Philadelphia's last comeback attempt as the Eagles lost to the Atlanta Falcons 35-31 on Sunday night.
The Eagles lost Michael Vick to a concussion late in the third quarter. With backup Vince Young inactive with a hamstring injury, third-stringer Mike Kafka made his NFL debut.
Kafka completed 7 of 9 passes, but on fourth-and-4 from the Atlanta 22, Maclin dropped a pass over the middle from the second-year quarterback.
Maclin said he "definitely" should have made the catch.
"I'm better than that," Maclin said. "It was a very catchable ball. It was off my body a little bit. I've still got to catch that throw."
Asked about the play, Kafka said: "I know I can help him out, get it to him a little quicker."
Maclin had a huge game with 13 catches for 171 yards, including touchdown receptions of 5 and 36 yards from Vick.
Vick was injured when he was knocked by an Atlanta defender into right tackle Todd Herremans.
Vick, the former Falcons star, was making his first trip to Atlanta as a starter for another team. He returned as a backup with the Eagles in 2009, when he ran and threw for touchdowns in a 34-7 win.
Vick's return as a starter generated a strong turnout of his No. 7 jerseys, both in Eagles green and in red or black from his days with the Falcons.
Vick had mixed results before his injury. He lost two fumbles and threw an interception, but he completed 19 of 28 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns. He had six carries for 25 yards.
"I feel for him," Maclin said. "Obviously, he wanted to come home and make a statement."
Vick was not in the locker room after the game but did not go to a hospital, according to coach Andy Reid, who also said Vick would be able to fly with the team back to Philadelphia.
Matt Ryan threw a career-high four touchdown passes for Atlanta, including two to tight end Tony Gonzalez, who moved past Terrell Owens into the fifth spot on the NFL's career receiving list.
"He's a Hall of Famer," Eagles safety Kurt Coleman said of Gonzalez. "He knows how to use his body. Matt did a good job of getting the ball to him and he made the catch.
"We just didn't make plays, bottom line."
Ryan hooked up with Ovie Mughelli on a 1-yard score that brought Atlanta to 31-28 with just over 6 minutes remaining.
The Falcons (1-1) completed the comeback with Michael Turner breaking off a 61-yard run, then powering over from the 3 with 3:24 remaining. Turner finished with 114 yards on 21 carries.
"It was a wild one, for sure, but we hung in there," Ryan said. "I think everybody hung in there and kept making plays, kept battling. Credit to guys on both sides of the ball - we never gave up."
Maclin returned after taking a third-quarter hit from Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson, whose helmet-to-helmet hit on Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson last season left both players with concussions and left Robinson with a big fine.
Robinson drew another unnecessary roughness penalty after again leading with his helmet against Maclin.
"It's two for two now," Maclin said. "Fortunately, it wasn't as bad as Jackson was last year. I was all right. It almost shocked me."
Reid wouldn't say if he believes Robinson deserved another fine or other punishment from the NFL.
"That's up to the league," Reid said. "I don't deal with that. I deal with my football team getting better."
Falcons coach Mike Smith denied it was an illegal hit, saying "that's the way we teach it," but the NFL could dole out a suspension after it reviews the play.
LeSean McCoy had 18 carries for 95 yards and two third-quarter touchdowns for the Eagles (1-1).
After Maclin's drop, the Falcons ran off all but the last 5 seconds, and Kafka's desperation heave into the end zone was batted down to end the game.
"I thought the guys battled," Reid said. "We just had too many turnovers, too many mistakes."
Kafka said he was ready for his first opportunity.
"I wasn't nervous," Kafka said. "I just wanted to go in and execute the offense. I had a lot of trust in the guys around me. They've got a lot of experience. Obviously they know their jobs. That's what it's all about. As long as I can go in and do my job."
Reid said Vick's status for next week will be decided by team doctors.
The Georgia Dome was packed and loud, many fans wearing Vick's old No. 7 jersey from his Falcons days but plenty more adorned in Ryan's No. 2.
Vick's first fumble, with the Eagles poised for a touchdown that would've given them a 17-7 lead, wasn't really his fault.
Peria Jerry burst through the line and knocked the ball away before Vick could even hand off to McCoy. Defensive end Ray Edwards returned the fumble 64 yards before Jackson made the tackle.
The Falcons offense did the rest, capped by Gonzalez's first TD catch.
On the Eagles' first possession of the second half, Vick threw a pass over the middle that was picked off by Kelvin Hayden. The Falcons turned that into seven more points, as Ryan went to Gonzalez again on a 17-yard TD that gave Atlanta a 21-10 lead.