After a review of the game tape, here is a look at the key Eagles players in their 27-24 playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Shawn Andrews and Scott Young

You'd never know it by the lack of success the Eagles had in the running game in the first half when they ran 12 times for 14 yards, but Andrews actually was performing at the same high level against the Saints' underrated defensive line as he did all season.

The Eagles' lack of success was more a byproduct of leaving defensive ends Charles Grant and Will Smith unblocked on running plays. Those two combined for 10 tackles, a high number for defensive ends, and most of them came from the backside.

Andrews had one of his trademark flattening blocks on linebacker Scott Fujita during a screen play to Brian Westbrook on the Eagles' opening offensive series, and another on Mark Simoneau in the second quarter.

For the most part, Andrews dominated defensive tackle Brian Young. His leveling block on Young allowed Westbrook to leap over a pile of Saints defenders for a go-ahead touchdown right before halftime.

There was no indication he had any sort of neck problem during the first half, but obviously something happened because he spent the second half in a New Orleans hospital rather than on the field. It was diagnosed as a severe bruise.

Unfortunately for Young, the play that everyone is going to remember is the false start that negated a first-down completion from Jeff Garcia to Hank Baskett.

That penalty on the Eagles' final offensive possession wasn't his only costly one. Young also was flagged for holding Hollis Thomas on the first play of the fourth quarter, negating a 20-yard scramble by Garcia down to the New Orleans' 22-yard line.

It was not all bad for Young. In the third quarter, Westbrook went off right tackle for a 62-yard touchdown run that was aided by Young's fine block of defensive tackle Brian Young (no relation).

L.J. Smith

The Eagles tight end had just two catches for 23 yards and two blocks that sprung Westbrook on his touchdown run. If anything, he was probably underutilized against the Saints. Only three passes were in his direction and one of them was a desperation, underhanded toss by Garcia in the second quarter.

During the last few weeks of the season, Smith became a solid downfield blocker for the Eagles, which was part of the reason why Westbrook was able to rip off some long touchdown runs.

The Eagles' tight end triggered Westbrook's TD jaunt. He made the first hole by sealing off cornerback Mike McKenzie, then went downfield and took out safety Jay Bellamy, allowing the running back to cut to his right and head for the end zone.

Smith, however, still struggles when he is asked to block defensive ends, and his inability to do so was costly midway through the third quarter. When Smith couldn't contain Charles Grant, the Saints end burst inside and stopped Correll Buckhalter for a 2-yard loss to the Saints' 38-yard line. The drive stalled after that play and the Eagles were forced to punt.

Jeremiah Trotter

The Eagles middle linebacker finished with five tackles, but he didn't have a major impact on the game as the Saints ran for 208 yards.

Trotter had two bad plays on the series when the Saints scored their final touchdown late in the third quarter. After an illegal-contact penalty against linebacker Dhani Jones negated a Trent Cole sack and gave New Orleans a first down at the Eagles' 34-yard line, Deuce McAllister broke free for a 23-yard run to the 11.

Both Trotter and Jones pursued the ballcarrier poorly and Omar Gaither whiffed on a tackle attempt, allowing McAllister to break into the secondary.

McAllister scored on the following play when he took a screen pass from Drew Brees and used a stutter step to freeze Trotter before taking off down the left sideline for the winning TD.

The difference between Trotter's energy level from the start of the game to the finish was drastic. His first tackle came on a screen pass to McAllister, and it was stunning how fast he closed to stop him for no gain.

When McAllister scored on the 11-yard screen pass in the third quarter, it was clear that Trotter did not have the same fresh legs.

Quick hits. Saints linebacker Danny Clark clearly blocked Eagles linebacker Torrance "Tank" Daniels in the back on an 11-yard punt return by Reggie Bush in the fourth quarter, but no call was made. . . . Bush's second-quarter touchdown run was sensational, but it should have been negated by a holding call on fullback Mike Karney, who hooked safety Sean Considine.

Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or