Without Carson Wentz, the Philadelphia Eagles made enough plays offensively and got a dominant defensive showing to “upset” the Atlanta Falcons.
A conservative offensive game plan by Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson paid dividends as the Eagles have advanced to the NFC Championship after beating the Atlanta Falcons, 15-10.
Starting quarterback Nick Foles had plenty of experience with them during his initial stint with the Eagles when Chip Kelly was the coach. Current coach Doug Pederson understood that and used that play type to get his quarterback comfortable. The game turned when Pederson went to that as the offense’s fulcrum.
The first half was a back and forth of mistakes and miscues. It started with the first play of the game when Foles slipped, threw a duck and wound up getting his team yardage anyway because the Falcons committed pass interference. The next play, Jay Ajayi fumbled his first touch and the Falcons took over.
When risks were needed, Pederson took them. The first Eagles touchdown came on a fourth down play inside the one-yard line. LeGarrette Blount ran it in after a botched handoff almost gave the Falcons the ball.
Atlanta answered back after an Eagles special team blunder tossed away an opportunity. Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan, who struggled to escape the ferocious Eagles pass rush all night, escaped just enough to flick the ball to Devonta Freeman in the end zone for Atlanta’s only touchdown of the night.
The first half ended with an Eagles field goal. Atlanta’s secondary blew the chance to end the drive. You can watch it below.
The 🏈 bounces off the DB's knee…
— NFL (@NFL) January 13, 2018
The second half is where Foles started getting comfortable. Run-pass options opened up the field and the Eagles receivers were making plays to move the sticks. Philadelphia’s backs, especially Ajayi also found some space.
Neither offense could take the big shot but became more efficient as the game progressed. Philadelphia turned to All-Pro tight end, Zach Ertz. Atlanta went to their top option, Julio Jones.
The fourth quarter is where it got interesting.
Philadelphia started the quarter with the ball. They went on a long drive with Foles looking the best he did all game. It ended with Philadelphia going up 15-10.
Atlanta took the ball back with around four minutes left. The drive almost ended after Pederson took another risk and challenged a catch by Mohammed Sanu, a call that was reversed by officials. The following play, a long fourth down, Ryan found Jones to keep the drive going.
Once inside the red zone, the Falcons normal struggles popped up. Atlanta had issues converting those opportunities all season. On fourth down from the two-yard line, the Falcons Ryan again faced pressure from the Eagles defense and lofted up a catchable ball to Jones that floated through the All-Pro’s hands.
The Eagles front absolutely dominated this entire game. Fletcher Cox handled Atlanta’s interior lineman and the Falcons were forced to run everything outside. Once in passing situations, the pass rush took over. Philadelphia’s offense was able to limit mistake in the second half and score just enough to outlast the Falcons.
The Eagles will advance to play the winner of Sunday’s game between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings. The Eagles are the one seed which means one of those two teams will be making the trip to Philadelphia.