Eagles hold off Falcons to reach NFC title game
PHILADELPHIA — Rookie kicker Jake Elliott booted three field goals, LeGarrette Blount rushed for a 1-yard touchdown, and the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the visiting Atlanta Falcons 15-10 in the NFC divisional playoffs Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.
The crowd erupted when Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan's pass fell incomplete in the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the Philadelphia 2-yard line with less than one minute remaining.
The top-seeded Eagles won their first playoff game since 2009 and advanced to host the NFC Championship Game next Sunday against either the New Orleans Saints or the Minnesota Vikings.
"It's an awesome feeling to be moving on and having a chance at the Super Bowl," Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. "We have belief in one another, and we knew we could win. One more and we're off to Minneapolis."
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles managed the game effectively by completing 23 of 30 passes for 246 yards.
Ryan was hardly dominant, going 22-of-36 for 210 yards and one touchdown. Julio Jones caught nine passes for 101 yards but couldn't come down with the ball on the game-deciding, fourth-down play.
"It's difficult when you get to the playoffs and you've put in all the work throughout the year," Ryan said. "You're in a competitive game. There's a lot of back and forth. It's disappointing to not get the outcome that you want."
Elliott booted his third field goal of the game, a 21-yard chip shot with 6:02 left, for a 15-10 lead. The Eagles marched 80 yards in 14 plays and moved to the Atlanta 4, where they had fourth-and-1. Instead of going for it, they chose the safe route and three more points.
A 37-yard field goal by Elliott gave the Eagles a 12-10 lead with 11 seconds left in the third quarter. The drive started at Philadelphia's 7-yard line, and the Eagles advanced 74 yards in 12 plays.
Elliott connected on a 53-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, closing the Eagles' deficit to 10-9.
Ryan tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to running back Devonta Freeman and the Falcons captured the lead 10-6 with 5:41 remaining in the second. The drive started at the Philadelphia 18-yard line because Eagles linebacker Bryan Braman made contact with the ball on an Atlanta punt, setting up the Falcons in prime field position.
Blount capped a 14-play, 86-yard drive by scampering in from the 1-yard line with 10:28 left in the second. The Eagles ran the ball effectively the entire drive and appeared to have scored on their 13th play. Foles and running back Corey Clement mishandled the handoff, and Foles actually pounced on the ball and dived into the end zone. A replay reversed the call, marking Foles down at the 1, setting up Blount's touchdown on fourth down, though Elliott missed the extra point.
Philadelphia running back Jay Ajayi fumbled on the Eagles' first series of the game, and the Falcons proceeded to move 59 yards in 11 plays capped by Matt Bryant's 33-yard field goal.