Eagles out-fly Falcons, move on to NFC Championship Game

By Josh Liddick, Sports Talk Philly editor 

In a game that came down to whichever team could overcome their own mistakes, the Eagles played their hearts out, responded to the raucous Linc crowd, and came away with the first playoff victory since 2008, a 15-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons to advance to the NFC Championship Game.

The first quarter was a game of tough love for the Eagles as the first drive started with a gift and ended with misery. A deep pass from Nick Foles that wasn't near his receiver ended with a pass interference call that gave the Eagles 42 yards.
But on the very next play, Jay Ajayi gave up the ball after a four yard gain, fumbling and turning it over to the Falcons.
Luckily, the defense was able to limit Atlanta on offense and only gave up a chip shot field goal to Matt Bryant to trail briefly, 3-0.
The Eagles learned from their early mistakes while running with the ball, as Ajayi held on to the football and ran the ball up the gut for good gain after good gain.
The third drive of the game proved to be the one of the more successful and crucial drives of the game for the Eagles as the team produced at a high level.
After a 14 play, 86 yard drive that lasted 6:44, a couple runs to move the rock by Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount, followed by a stout left end run fake to Nelson Agholor for 21 yards all set up the big touchdown at the end of the drive for Blount.
A one yard run from the right side for Blount gave the Eagles a TD to make the score 6-3 after a missed extra point from Jake Elliott.
The very next drive proved to end costly for the Eagles, as the defense did their job to hold Matt Ryan and company to only a few minimal gains, and forced the Falcons to punt from the Philadelphia 48 yard-line.
A 30-yard punt from Matt Bosher landed on the ground hit Eagle Bryan Braman and was recovered by the Falcons on the Eagles' 18 yardline.
This mistake set up a four play, 27 yard drive that ended with a Matt Ryan short pass to Devonta Freeman for the touchdown, This gave the Falcons a 10-6 lead with 5:41 left in the second quarter.
Jake Elliott kicked a big Eagles field goal to put the team down by one going into the locker room for halftime.
A few back and forth opportunities on punts and whatnot allowed the Eagles to get more opportunities on offense, however their scoring chances were limited as they missed out on a few plays that could have put them over the top.
Elliott connected on two more field goals throughout to give the Eagles a 15-10 lead going into the Falcons' final drive.
The Falcons' 14 play, 74 yard drive that lasted 5:04 could've ended, and let's be honest here, should have ended with the Eagles down by two points with less than a minute left to play.
But the Eagles were able to rebound, despite the Falcons cruising into the red zone, finishing at the Eagles' two yardline at 4th & 2. With Jalen Mills on the coverage, all Matt Ryan had to do was heave the ball to Julio Jones and get the TD.
But stellar coverage by Mills, forced Jones out of bounds and away from grabbing the ball. The drive ended, and pretty much sealed the deal for the Eagles.
All the Eagles had to do was make sure they were able to run the ball for a first down, setting up a knee down on the ground to run out the clock.
And just like that, the Eagles are headed to the NFC Championship Game next weekend to take on either the Saints or the Vikings at Lincloln Financial Field.
Nick Foles struggled from the get go, but it turned out that the pass wouldn't be the most important facet of the game for the Eagles. The running game by far exceeded all expectations.
Getting chances to pound the ball in short yardage situations to move the chains and run down the clock was a big key in the Eagles having long drives in order to take control of the game.
Jay Ajayi finished with 54 yards with 15 carries, and a few trick plays gave Nelson Agholor 20 yards on two carries, but the one was for a loss, so we'll just count the 21 yard gain.
Despite not throwing a touchdown or an interception for that matter, Nick Foles had an efficient day throwing the ball after going 23-for-30 with 246 yards. Matt Ryan finished with 210 yards and one touchdown, going 22-for-36 for the Falcons.
Julio Jones wasn't a scoring threat, but the defense was the main reason by far for keeping him out of the endzone. Jones did finish with 101 yards on nine receptions.
Foles spread the ball all over the field for the Eagles, with six receivers that had over three catches. Alshon Jeffery was clutch for the Birds, finishing with four receptions on 61 yards.
The Eagles defense stepped up in all the right ways, limited the Falcons' offense to only 10 points, allowing 281 total yards on 59 plays. The Eagles' rushing defense played fearless yet again, allowing only 86 yards on 20 carries.
It looked as if the Eagles won the overall possession battle, but they only had the ball for a total of 32:06, compared to Atlanta's 27:54.
The game may not have ebded with a ton of points, but all of the right things happened for the Eagles even in dire situations following foolish turnovers.
The Eagles will definitely need to play a lot better in those crucial situations next weekend if they want to move on to the Super Bowl, but they did enough good things to get the victory and oust the defending NFC Champions.


Go to top button