Late goal-line stand helps Eagles advance to NFC championship
Jake Elliot had three field goals, Nick Foles threw for 246 yards and Philadelphia’s defense survived fourth-and-goal in the final two minutes as Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons in an NFL divisional playoff game Sunday.
Elliott’s third field goal, a 21-yarder, extended Philadelphia’s lead to 15-10 with 6:02 left in the fourth quarter. Starting his fourth game since Carson Wentz went down with a knee injury in week 14, Foles completed two third-down passes on the drive.
Behind Ryan, Atlanta moved the ball quickly on the final drive and had a first-and-goal from the 9-yard line with 1:19 left. On second down, Ryan hit Julio Jones to bring the ball to the 2. Two plays later, Ryan’s final throw sailed through Jones’ hands, and the Eagles were headed to next weekend’s NFC championship game at home in Philadelphia.
The Eagles took a 12-10 lead into the final 15 minutes, thanks to 37-yard field goal by Elliot. Foles was 5 of 6 for 70 yards on the drive, including a clutch 21-yard completion on third-and-8 to Alshon Jeffrey.
The Falcons scored first, on a 33-yard field goal by Matt Bryant on their first possession after recovering a fumble by Eagles running back Jay Ajayi.
The two teams exchanged punts before Foles engineered an 86-yard, 14-play drive for an Eagles touchdown. The key play was a 21-yard run by wide receiver Nelson Agholor on third down that took the Eagles to the Falcons 3. Two plays later, Foles scooped up a botched handoff and was downed at the 1. LeGarrette Blount scored on the next play. Elliott missed the extra point, hitting the left upright.
With 7:41 left in the half, an Atlanta punt bounced off Philadelphia special teams player Bryan Braman and was recovered by the Falcons’ LaRoy Reynolds at the Philadelphia 18. Six plays later, Ryan hit Devonta Freeman from six yards out, and Atlanta led 10-6.
The Eagles cut it to 10-9 with 1 second left in the half. Starting at his own 28, Foles was 4 of 5 on the drive, including 15 yards to Jeffrey on third down that set up Elliot’s 53-yard field goal.
Philadelphia, which went into the matchup with the Falcon as underdog, will host either Minnesota or New Orleans for the conference championship and a chance to make the Super Bowl for the first time since 2004 season, when they lost to the New England Patriots.