PHILADELPHIA (AP)- The Philadelphia Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons 18-12 in the NFL opener.
In the second half, call it the Philly Special Junior.
It didn't go for a touchdown like the pass quarterback Nick Foles caught to help the Eagles beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. But it was just as tricky.
Wide receiver Nelson Agholor took a handoff on a reverse and Foles took off down the right sideline. The pass was perfect, just like Trey Burton's Super Bowl throw to Foles. The gain was 15 yards to the Atlanta 26 in the third quarter, with Foles stumbling out of bounds.
Soon after, Jay Ajayi scored from the 1-yard line to give the Eagles the lead 10-6 on Thursday night.
Although there was lots of staunch defense, the game often looked like a preseason contest, marred by dropped passes, missed blocks and all those flags. There were 16 penalties in the opening half.
The Eagles, defending an NFL championship for the first time since 1960, had an impressive goal-line stand on Atlanta's first possession. They stopped Atlanta three times at the Philadelphia 1.
But the Falcons, who lost 15-10 in the divisional round here in January, marched downfield on their next series. Again, they were stopped close to the end zone and Matt Bryant made a 21-yard field for the first points of the 2018 season.
Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, still at quarterback with Carson Wentz recovering from last December's knee injury, was sacked twice in the opening quarter.
Foles did lead Philly on a long drive to start the second quarter capped by Jake Elliott's 26-yard field goal to make it 3-3.
Late in the half, Matt Ryan limped off following a 2-yard run and a slide. Breathe easy, Falcons fans: not an injury. His knee brace came loose. Atlanta called timeout and he returned for the next play.
Ryan was sacked on the next play and Bryant made a 52-yarder for a 6-3 edge.
Atlanta linebacker Vic Beasley was checked for a head injury but then cleared to return.