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Eagles hold off Falcons in NFL season opener

AP

Matt Ryan to Julio Jones failed in Philly again.

Jay Ajayi had a pair of touchdown runs, Nick Foles caught another pass to jump-start a sputtering offense and the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles needed another defensive stand to open the NFL season with an 18-12 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night.

A sloppy, mistake-filled game that featured 26 penalties came down to Ryan throwing an incomplete pass to Jones in the left corner of the end zone on the final play from Philadelphia’s 5.

Jones couldn’t come down with Ryan’s pass from the 2 in the right corner of the end zone in Atlanta’s 15-10 loss in the divisional round in January.

“It was deja vu,” said cornerback Ronald Darby, who covered Jones on the last play this time around instead of Jalen Mills. “Jones is one of the best but we got the stop.”

A weather delay pushed kickoff back 45 minutes, forcing fans to wait for the unveiling of the “world champions” banner following the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory.

The defense fed off that energy with a strong goal-line stand on the opening series, stopping the Falcons three times at the 1.

They did it again at the end.

After Ajayi’s 11-yard TD run and 2-point conversion gave the Eagles a lead with 2:25 left, Ryan led the Falcons down the field. He completed a 36-yard pass to Jones and connected with him again for 18 yards on third-and-17