The Eagles lost to the New Orleans Saints 20-14. In a game that started out very much in the Eagles favor, the game slipped away in the second half. The Saints ran 23 more plays than the Eagles and possessed the ball for 15 more minutes. New Orleans was 8-15 on third down. This, in conjunction with a few other things I’ll get to, was the reason the Eagles season ended. First though, let’s break down quarter by quarter how the game went.
The game started off fantastic for the Eagles. The defense was playing pissed off at the outset. The Saints running up the score in the regular season obviously left a very bad taste in their mouth, and it showed right away. On the first play, the Saints attacked the Eagles secondary like they did the first time.
The problem for the Saints was that they didn’t account for Cre’Von LeBlanc being legit. He showed them and the rest of the NFL that he officially was today. Brees under-throws the deep ball to Ginn here, and LeBlanc makes them pay. At this point, the Saints fans were quiet, and Foles capitalized on the early momentum swing.
Foles placed a perfect ball to J-Matt right in the bread basket leading him into the end zone. Nick looked poised to light the Saints up early. He would put the Eagles up two touchdowns on the next drive.
The Eagles line gets a great push here, and Foles is able to get in for another score. That would take us into the second quarter.
The turning point of the game was when Brandon Brooks went down with an Achilles tear and was carted off the field. The offensive line clearly didn’t have the same push after this, and it showed. The 2nd quarter is when things started to go awry for the Birds.
Foles tried to hit Ertz deep down the sideline, but didn’t have enough under the ball. Lattimore made an incredible play to intercept it, so kudos to him.
As I said earlier, the defense started this game playing pissed off. A fake punt changed everything for the Eagles D though.
Taysom Hill, a utility player of sorts for the Saints, got the direct snap and pounded it through for the first down to keep the Saints drive alive. This sparked the Saints offense and led to their first score.
Brees took the snap at the two yard-line and placed a great ball where only his receiver could get it. The Saints would get a field goal later in the quarter to make it 14-10.
The Eagles started the second half with the ball but punted after a three and out. This kept the momentum with the Saints, and they would go on to have an 18-play 11:30 drive.
Michael Thomas just out muscled LeBlanc on this play and got the touchdown. The Saints had the ball for basically the whole 3rd quarter. The Eagles would get it back after the touchdown but punt once the 4th quarter started.
In the 4th, the Saints would get another field goal to put them up six. The Eagles then end up punting on the ensuing drive. After driving down the field again, the Saints would miss a field goal to keep the Eagles alive and give Nick Foles a chance to make magic one more time.
The magic wasn’t meant to be though. The Eagles were driving when they tried to fit in one more play before the two minute warning, but Alshon couldn’t corral the pass and let it slip through his hands for an interception.
The Eagles were on track to win this game, but the injury bug that had haunted them all season struck again. Brooks left the game with a torn Achilles, and both Fletcher Cox and Michael Bennett missed snaps because of injuries as well. Avonte Maddox was banged up in the second half, which left the Eagles secondary with less than ideal options. After the game, it was even revealed that Alshon Jeffery was playing through broken ribs. It wasn’t just because of injuries though.
The coaching left a lot to be desired in this one. Doug Pederson went conservative after the Foles interception and took his foot off the gas. Schwartz and the defense were unable to get off the field on third down. With all that said, the Eagles had a chance to win the game at the end, and from the way the offense was moving, they looked set up for a game winning drive. When pursuing a Super Bowl though, as we learned last season, you need a few good breaks to go your way. Unfortunately tonight, the good break went to the Saints.
I normally wouldn’t include this, but since this was the final game of the Birds’ season, I will. The Eagles are poised to be back next season. They’ll reload, Carson will be fully healthy, and the secondary can fill the holes. LeBlanc and Maddox have proven that they can play, and with a healthy Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, and Rodney McLeod, that group could become a strength of the defense. We have a coach who has won a Super Bowl and kept a 2018 team together after their season was deemed over to go on to knock off the 3 seed Chicago Bears in the playoffs. The future is still bright, and being championship contenders is still the norm.