Jeremy Maclin has breakout game against Falcons - again

The Eagles' Jeremy Maclin dives into the end zone ahead of the Falcons' William Moore in the third quarter. The 36-yard pass play was Maclin's 2d TD of the game.
The Eagles' Jeremy Maclin dives into the end zone ahead of the Falcons' William Moore in the third quarter. The 36-yard pass play was Maclin's 2d TD of the game. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: September 19, 2011

ATLANTA - Jeremy Maclin had his coming out party Sunday night.

The rest of the nation found out what Philadelphia has known for a year now: The Eagles wide receiver is a budding star.

Yes, the Eagles already have a superstar wideout in DeSean Jackson. But on a night when Jackson was held in check, Maclin carried the pass-catchers - until the bitter end.

Unfortunately, his effort was all for naught as the Eagles fell to the Falcons, 35-31, at the Georgia Dome, and when the team needed him most Maclin couldn't hold onto a Mike Kafka throw over the middle on fourth down with less than two minutes remaining.

He did almost everything: touchdown receptions, short grabs, long ones, and catches for first down. There was more. Maclin had a few key downfield blocks on LeSean McCoy carries, and he showed gruff as he continually mixed it up with Falcons defenders.

And then he took a blow to the head on a helmet-to-helmet collision in the third quarter. Maclin had just caught a 16-yard pass from Michael Vick when Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson led with his helmet. The collision drew a personal foul penalty.

If the name "Robinson" and the words "collision with an Eagles receiver" sound familiar it's because last season he knocked Jackson out cold with a legal blow. Unlike Jackson, Maclin got up from this hit, although he looked dazed. He went to the sideline and was administered a concussion test, apparently passed and missed only a play.

Before the collision, however, it was Maclin that took a floundering Eagles offense and injected some life into it. With the Eagles down, 21-10, early in the third quarter, Maclin pulled in a short pass from Vick and zoomed 36 yards through a minefield of Falcons defenders and into the corner of the end zone.

It was his second touchdown of the game and was the fifth time in Maclin's short career - 33 games to be exact - that he had a multi-TD game.

The first touchdown was almost as important. Trailing by 7-3 in the first quarter, the Eagles should have had a touchdown when Vick threw to Jackson in the end zone. But the pass was slightly low and Jackson couldn't hang onto it.

He was saved by a Falcons offsides penalty and then by Maclin, who two plays later, made a nifty catch on a pass tossed behind him. The 5-yard score was just another example of Vick looking to his No. 1-A receiver early and often.

Last week, Maclin was targeted just three times and caught one pass for 20 yards. He was supposed to be involved more upon his return to his hometown of St. Louis and his return to game action after missing all of the preseason with a cancer scare. But Vick and Maclin just couldn't get in sync.

Against the Falcons, though, Maclin was involved from the get-go. The first two plays were trick plays that netted little yards, but when Maclin ran his routes the balls were there. Even after Vick left with a concussion and Kafka took over, Maclin was the playmaker.

All told, Maclin finished with 13 catches and 171 yards. Maclin should play all his games against the Falcons. Last season, he caught seven passes for 159 yards, including one for an 83-yard touchdown. The year before, as a rookie, he snatched four catches for 83 yards.

But both those games resulted in Eagles victories.

Jackson, on the other hand, netted just two catches for 21 yards a week after his six-reception, 102-yard opener.

Jackson, who left the game for short periods with minor bumps, pitched in other ways. After Vick fumbled a handoff to McCoy and Falcons John Abraham raced the other way with the ball, Jackson caught up and tackled the defensive end as if shot out of a cannon. Jackson also had a great block on McCoy's two-yard TD run in the third quarter that expanded the Eagles lead to 31-21.

But those were the final points for the Eagles, who fell to 1-1.

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, or @Jeff_McLane on Twitter.


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