Eagles advance to NFC championship game with 15-10 win over Falcons

Annette Crawford
January 14, 2018

Philadelphia, the NFC East division champions with a 13-and-3 regular season record, were home underdogs in Saturday's Divisional Playoff game - the first time in National Football League history a top-seed has been a home underdog in a Divisional Playoff. The quick throws and simple reads got the backup quarterback into a rhythm that he rode for the entire second half.

Falcons go coldQuarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons and teammates react against the Philadelphia Eagles. "That's what we thought was going to be the best play called for that time".

Ricardo Allen forced Ajayi to fumble on the next play and Matt Ryan drove the 59 yards into field-goal range.

"In the first half, I still felt good", Foles explained.

RPOs aren't anyone's comfort zone and Foles wasn't anywhere near excellent, but Philadelphia succeeded in putting the quarterback in short down-and-distance situations. It was the Eagles' longest run in the postseason since Correll Buckhalter's 27-yard gain against Minnesota in the 2008 playoffs. "But we made too many mistakes". He was also the beneficiary of a botched interception that deflected off the knee of a Falcons defender and into the hands of Torrey Smith. The only kind of pass that you're going to get from a two-back formation is really to move the pocket, so you eliminate all of the plays that aren't going to come. Foles started out shaky but led two impressive, long second-half drives as the Eagles' offensive line asserted its will against a Falcons defense that looked gassed late in the game. However, on the very next play, Jay Ajayi fumbled and it was recovered by the Falcons. Foles, whose struggles over the final two weeks of the regular season were a big reason the Eagles were home underdogs, finished 23 of 30 for 246 yards with completions to eight different players.

"It's big time to win the game, but we really wanted to put the masks on, so that was an added bonus". The Eagles would get a defensive pass interference call in their favor, putting the ball in Falcons territory. Six plays later, Ryan hit Devonta Freeman from six yards out, and Atlanta led 10-6. The kick capped a third quarter dominated by both defenses.

Everyone's already breaking down the Atlanta Falcons' final drive. The veteran always played hard for the Birds and it was nice to see him get some redemption after making a potentially fatal mistake. For almost the entire game, the home-standing, top-seeded Eagles were trying to give the Falcons a win, and the Falcons stubbornly refused to take it. They went 2-1 with Nick Foles, losing a meaningless game in Week 17 after starters only played one quarter. The Eagles did beat the Saints in 1993, 36-20, behind a 26-point fourth quarter from the Birds.

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz tipped his hat to the remaining NFC opponents, but says he and his teammates will be ready for whoever survives Sunday's divisional game. When the Falcons reached the Super Bowl last season, they did so largely because Ryan did an incredible job of spreading the ball around.

Yet the Falcons still kept helping them.

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