We kinda had the game right where we wanted it to be…Eagles driving for a potential winning score, only two minutes left, a chance to take the lead and possibly leave Drew Brees high and dry with little time remaining to work his own miracle finish.
Nick Foles hit Alshon Jeffery on a crossing pattern deep in Saints territory with a perfect pass…except the perfect spiral slipped right through Jeffery’s white gloves.
After taking a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, the Eagles were shut out in the next three. But the offense had a shot with less than three minutes to go after a Saints missed field goal kept it a one-score game, then the ill-fated pass went through the hands of wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, and fell into the arms of Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore for an interception deep in Saints territory to seal the loss.
Foles ended up 18 of 31 passing for 201 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. He scored a rushing touchdown on a quarterback sneak, which proved to be the Eagles’ final points of the game.
Jeffery led the team in receiving with 63 yards on five receptions. The Eagles gained just 49 yards on the ground with Wendell Smallwood picking up 33 of them.
Although the offense struggled for most of the game, they could not have asked for a better start.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who only threw five interceptions during the regular season, loaded up on the first play looking for wide receiver Michael Thomas deep, but was intercepted by cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc.
The Eagles offense took the field and ended a balanced drive with a 37-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jordan Matthews.
The Eagles defense didn’t let up and forced a quick three-and-out on the next drive. The Eagles took over and drove down the field again, highlighted by a 30-yard pass to Jeffery on 3rd-and-7.
Two plays later, Foles snuck past the goal line for a touchdown and the Eagles took a 14-0 lead. On the drive, Eagles guard Brandon Brooks and Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins were carted off the field with injuries. Neither player returned to the game.
The Saints were finally able to move the chains on their next drive, but the Eagles swarmed Brees on 3rd-and-8 at the New Orleans 45 and forced a fumble recovered by the Saints for a big loss.
On the third play of the second quarter, Foles underthrew a pass to tight end Zach Ertz and Lattimore stepped in front for his first interception of the night. The momentum swung from there.
The Eagles had the Saints stopped and facing 4th-and-1 at their own 30, and declined a holding penalty anticipating a punt, but the Saints faked the punt and Taysom Hill took the ball four yards for a first down. Many observers are calling that play the ultimate momentum-changing event in the game. Maybe it was. A 42-yard pass to Thomas brought the Saints deep into Eagles territory on the next play. On 4th-and-goal from the 2, the Saints went for it again and Brees found wide receiver Keith Kirkwood for a touchdown.
On the drive, the Eagles lost cornerback Rasul Douglas, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, and defensive end Brandon Graham to injuries. Defensive end Michael Bennett left for a play with an injury but returned. The other three eventually returned after missing much of the second quarter.
After the teams traded punts, the Saints drove 67 yards and closed out the half with a 45-yard Will Lutz field goal to make it 14-10.
The second half began with an Eagles possession that quickly went three-and-out. The Saints then embarked on an 18-play, 92-yard drive that took up more than 11 minutes of the third quarter. The Saints converted a trio of third downs to keep the drive alive.
The drive was capped off with a two-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Thomas. Thomas finished the game with 12 receptions for 171 yards.
The Eagles couldn’t respond on the next drive and punted after five plays. The Saints converted on 3rd-and-5 on their next drive and then got a 36-yard run by Mark Ingram to move deep into Eagles territory. The Eagles made a critical stop there and held the Saints to a field goal to make it 20-14 with 10:28 left.
The Eagles couldn’t take advantage of a pass interference call on third down and had to punt after yet another short drive. The Saints took the ball at their own 25 with 8:30 to play. They faced a 3rd-and-13 at their own 32 and yet again converted with a long play.
The Eagles’ defense gave the offense a chance with a critical tackle-for-loss by Bennett to force a 52-yard field goal, which was missed, giving the Eagles one last opportunity to put something together with the ball at their own 42-yard line.
Unfortunately for the Eagles and for us, the Jeffery boo-boo ended any hopes of yet another miraculous Nick Foles comeback— and the season was over for the Birds, just like that.
It was an exhausting game to play and to watch. There were so many big plays made by both sides EYE lost count. Certainly the Eagles had enough chances to put the game away early and late, but the Saints sort of dominated the middle of the game, if that makes any sense. We had a lapse in defensive pressure up the middle on Brees, which historically is about the only way you can get him off those rapid-fire precision 3-step drop laser beams he fires which result in 14-play scoring drives that eat clock and tire out your defense. Brees built up just enough cushion in that regard to reduce our own scoring drive opportunities to a minimum. If Brees were rationing chicken soup for a living, he left us with a spoonful instead of a full cup.
EYE don’t wish ill upon Sean Payton’s Saints, they played their hearts out to get the win. I applaud the effort we got from our guys who one might say deserve all the credit in the football world for overcoming so many key injuries this season just to be in a position to take the Saints to the limit. In the end we simply ran out of time and miracles.
|Passing 1st downs||11||14|
|Rushing 1st downs||2||9|
|1st downs from penalties||2||2|
|3rd down efficiency||2-7||8-15|
|4th down efficiency||0-0||2-2|
|Yards per Play||5.3||5.9|
|Yards per pass||6.5||7.1|
|Yards per rush||3.1||4.4|
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||1-1||2-2|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|