The Eagles lost to the Saints, 20-14, to end their season Sunday.
Marcus Hayes offers up six quick observations:
- The Eagles lost to the Saints in the playoffs, but they had no business getting there in the first place | Marcus Hayes
- Don’t blame Alshon Jeffery. Eagles were too imperfect all the way around. | David Murphy
- Despite the loss to the Saints, give this Eagles team credit: Everyone gave everything | Mike Sielski
As the clock ticked past 2 minutes left in the Eagles' season, trailing by 6 points and with Nick Foles cooking again, Super Bowl hero Alshon Jeffery had a pass from Foles slip through his hands at the Saints' 20-yard line. Marshon Lattimore caught the deflection.
Jeffery caught five passes for 63 yards before that crucial drop, which ended the Eagles' last, best chance to upset the Saints in New Orleans. Jeffery led Eagles wide receivers with 65 catches and six touchdowns this season despite playing 13 games; he missed the first three recovering from offseason shoulder surgery to repair an injury suffered in the 2017 preseason.
» PEDERSON TO JEFFERY: ‘Don’t let one play define you’
Nick Foles looked like Big Game Nick on the first two drives. He lofted a 37-yard play-action butterfly to Jordan Matthews to start the scoring just over 4 minutes into the game. He then hit Alshon Jeffery with a nonchalant, 30-yard back-shoulder toss that set up Foles' quarterback sneak for a 14-0 lead with 4 minutes, 39 seconds to play in the first quarter. He was 8-for-9 for 113 yards and a touchdown in the first 15 minutes.
He was NFL backup quarterback Nick Foles the rest of the game. He ended the next drive with a deep interception when he underthrew open tight end Zach Ertz. He also underthrew open receiver Golden Tate on third-and-8 early in the fourth quarter. He was 10-for-22 for 88 yards with an interception after the first quarter.
Midway through the first quarter the Saints lost standout defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins for the game. Two plays later, Eagles Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks left on the cart with a serious right leg injury and did not return. With 48 seconds to play in the quarter, cornerback Rasul Douglas hurt his ankle trying to recover a fumble. With 11:51 to play in the second quarter, on a punt play that turned out to be a fake, All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox left the game with a foot injury. Two plays later, defensive end Michael Bennett left with a leg injury.
Without Cox, Bennett and Douglas, Brees was unmolested and the Saints marched 79 yards for a touchdown, a 2-yard fourth-and-goal pass scored against Douglas' replacement, Josh Hawkins. Bennett and Douglas returned. Cox returned, left again in the fourth quarter, and returned again. Left tackle Jason Peters injured his back in the fourth quarter and did not return. Brooks and Rankins did not.
» READ MORE: D-line fights through injuries but comes up short
The Saints' 18-play, 92-yard touchdown drive that spanned 11:29 in the third quarter and gave them a 17-14 lead included three third-down conversions, including a 20-yard pass to Michael Thomas on third-and-16 from the Eagles' 32. The Saints incurred 25 yards in penalties on the drive, and benefited from a 5-yard penalty; so, they really went 112 yards.
» GRADE THE EAGLES: Run defense earns ‘D,’ Nick Foles can’t finish
The Saints had the ball, fourth-and 1 from their 30, when Doug Pederson declined a holding call. The Saints lined up to punt. They ran a successful fake, with wildcat quarterback Taysom Hill. Fletcher Cox was injured on the play. Michael Bennett was injured two plays later. The Saints finished the drive with a touchdown and cut the score to 14-7 with 7:23 to play in the first half.
The Saints outscored the Eagles, 20-0, the rest of the way.
The Saints were favored by nine points. They won by 6. The teams were expected to combine for 53 points. They scored 34.