For two weeks, all the Philadelphia Eagles heard was how they didn't deserve to be a top seed in the playoffs. He added 44 yards on three catches including a monumental 32-yard pickup, the longest reception for Philadelphia, on a third down during the Eagles' opening drive of the fourth quarter that led to the game's final points.
The Eagles will host the victor of the New Orleans Saints-Minnesota Vikings next week in the NFC Championship Game. The early minutes of the game were plagued by poor quarterback play from Nick Foles, and a heavy whistle from the officials. But when a team is so strong around its QB, as the Eagles have been as the NFC's best team in the regular season, plenty of grit from the QB will do just fine. "Just win." So Saturday, he helped the Eagles win, completing 23 of 30 passes for 246 yards, being sacked once and not turning the ball over. When the Falcons reached the Super Bowl last season, they did so largely because Ryan did an incredible job of spreading the ball around.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz isn't drawing too much from that victory.
Trailing by five points with 5:57 left in an National Football League playoff game, the Atlanta Falcons took possession at their 24-yard line. They forced a punt or a turnover on downs on seven of Atlanta's nine possessions. But Jones was able to get to hit feet in time to make an attempt at the ball Ryan sailed toward him, with cornerback Jalen Mills in coverage.
The old saying is that defense wins championships. They didn't have Foles force things to Alshon Jeffery until their top wide receiver got open for a big play to set up a huge field goal before halftime.
Tonight, the "Jay-Train" made his presence felt.
Jay Ajayi rallied after fumbling his first carry of the game.
Neither side found the end zone in the third quarter, but Elliott once again nailed a kick, this time from 37 yards, to give the Eagles their first lead of the game.
UP - He was as bad as many expected he'd be in the first half. Then the Eagles (14-3) held when Atlanta (11-7) got to the 9-yard line with a first down, and to the 2 on fourth down.
Foles heated up after a poor first half, but the Eagles settled for field goals on those two long drives. The Eagles initially kept the offense on the field to go for it, but head coach Doug Pederson called a timeout.
He stuck with the run, as Ajayi, Blount, and Clement combined for 93 yards rushing. Defense played lights out.
And don't forget: In his first start this season, Foles had four touchdowns against the Giants.
Even if the contrasting drives essentially ended the same way, with both Foles and Ryan facing fourth-and-goal from in tight, it was the Eagles who had answered the one question that mattered: Could they win a playoff game with a quarterback who'd spent each of his last three seasons with a different team? He's had a lot of success on pitches and zone runs to the outside.
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