Thanks to Foles doing just enough to get by on offense after completing 23 of 30 passes for 246 yards with no turnovers, Philadelphia was able to prove all of the doubters wrong by hanging on for the tough win against Atlanta to advance to the NFC Championship to face the victor of Sunday's game between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings. Despite that, they had an opportunity to win the game in the final minutes.
The Falcons slow progress to the endzone had diehard Eagles fans cheering on a challenge on a pass completion, shouting when the Flacons made first downs, and roared when at 4th and goal the Eagles defense swooped in to prevent what could have been a game-winning touchdown for their opponents.
"That's a play we practice all the time, and certainly in those situations you go to your best player", Ryan said. "It just goes with the territory". After Philadelphia's first scoring drive, much of the Eagles' offense from there was built out of the run: run plays, run fakes, screens and everyone's favorite hot term, run-pass options.
"The missed-chances and the almosts, " is how head coach Dan Quinn described them all. He made a similar play earlier in the season against the Patriots.
Including that last one. "Weve been in those situations during the regular season, so we kind of know how to handle those situations, not try to make a play but let the play come to us". Nigel Bradham closed in, forcing Ryan to lob a pass to top receiver Julio Jones.
Only Mohamed Sanu and Matt Ryan flat-out said they liked the play-calling. Ryan, Quinn, Jones, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian have to live with it all. Against New Orleans or Minnesota, the Eagles are likely to be underdogs again next Sunday in the NFC Championship game.
"It just didn't work out", Ryan said of the final play during his post-game press conference, "and that's disappointing".
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A muffed punt, which bounced off the feet of at least two Eagles players, led to a Falcons touchdown. If nothing else, Foles was way off most of the first half.
The Eagles announced shortly after the game that a limited number of tickets for the NFC Championship Game will go on sale Tuesday, January 16 at 10 a.m. While they kept the ball moving and helped build confidence for Foles, the biggest benefit was on the clock. So perhaps there is a bit of destiny on the line if the Vikings can pull out a victory this afternoon. Foles drove the Eagles into a field-goal range, where Elliott's 37-yard field goal gave the Eagles a 12-10 lead.
The burden of protecting the lead and saving the season came down to one play from the 2-yard line.
It led to a three-and-out.
Star receiver Jones had a strong game with nine receptions for 101 yards. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said this week he told him to "just be Nick".
They couldn't finish - something too familiar to them over the past year.
"The guys are gonna motivate themselves based on what they've heard for the last month".