Eagles 15-10 Falcons: Top seed Eagles hold off Falcons
Last Updated: 14/01/18 7:14am
The Philadelphia Eagles held off the Atlanta Falcons in dramatic fashion in a 15-10 victory. The Eagles defense stifled Matt Ryan and held on a fourth-and-goal with less than a minute remaining to come out victorious.
On a cold afternoon in Philadelphia, it didn't take long for the excitement to start. The Eagles put the ball on the turf four times in the first half, and lost it twice. Jay Ajayi had the ball punched out of his arms deep in Atlanta territory on the opening drive of the game, and the Eagles special teams made an error in the second quarter, muffing a punt and gifting the ball to Atlanta close to Philadelphia's end zone.
Matt Ryan and company took advantage of both of the turnovers, scoring all 10 points in the half on drives after the turnovers. On their first offensive possession, they went ahead with a Matt Bryant 33-yard field goal, and after a LeGarrette Blount one-yard plunge gave Philadelphia a 6-3 lead, the Falcons again struck when Matt Ryan made a spectacular play to avoid the rush and hit Devonta Freeman for a six-yard touchdown on a short field.
Despite the mistakes, penalties and missed extra point by the home team, Nick Foles had a chance to reduce the deficit with just under a minute to go in the half. A fluky catch by Torrey Smith followed by a sideline pass to Alshon Jeffery with one second remaining allowed Jake Elliott to kick a 53-yard field goal, the longest by any Eagle in postseason history.
A 10-9 scoreline at the half wasn't a fair reflection of an action-packed first two quarters, but the second half began a lot more edgy. Neither team could get anything going until the end of the third, when Nick Foles completed five of seven passes as the Eagles picked up the pace on a 12 play, 74-yard drive. It ended with a 37-yard Elliott kick and an Eagles 12-10 lead.
With a lot of speculation about the future of defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, it was a play by his defense that put all the momentum in Philadelphia's favour. He sent safety Rodney McLeod on a safety blitz on the last play of the third quarter, and he got home to take down Matt Ryan 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
The Eagles got the ball back, and took over seven minutes off the clock on a 14-play, 80 yard drive to force the Falcons to score a touchdown with five minutes left. Ajayi rumbled on a 32-yard screen, and Foles was clinical right up to the goal line. Elliott again converted on a 21-yard kick, despite head coach Doug Pederson's temptation to go for it on fourth down. The Eagles went 15-10 up, then the real drama began.
Atlanta needed a touchdown, and Matt Ryan led a thrilling drive from his own 23-yard line all the way down to Philadelphia's goal line with under a minute to go. There was a coaches challenge by Pederson, a fourth-down conversion and some questionable calls by Falcons' offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, but the Falcons had a chance to win the game on a fourth-and-goal from the Eagles three-yard line.
Ryan rolled right, Julio Jones stumbled, and the ball intended for the star receiver went straight through his hands.
The Eagles will advance to the NFC Championship game and host either the New Orleans Saints or Minnesota Vikings, while the Falcons suffer another heartbreaking playoff exit and will move on to next season.
Game's key stats
|Passing||C/A Yds TD Int||Passing||C/A Yds TD Int|
|Matt Ryan||22/36 210 1 0||Nick Foles||23/30 246 0 0|
|Rushing||Att Yds TD||Rushing||Att Yds TD|
|Tevin Coleman||10 79 0||Jay Ajayi||15 54 0|
|Devonta Freeman||10 7 0||LeGarrette Blount||9 19 1|
|Receiving||Rec Yds TD||Receiving||Rec Yds TD|
|Julio Jones||9 101 0||Alshon Jeffery||4 61 0|
|Mohamed Sanu||3 50 0||Jay Ajayi||3 44 0|
|Total net yards||281||Total net yards||334|