On Saturday, the Philadelphia Eagles went into a playoff game as a three-point underdog to the Atlanta Falcons, and with plenty of reasons. They didn’t have Carson Wentz, their star quarterback, and the Falcons had played very well the week before in Los Angeles.
The Eagles changed the outcome of the game on Saturday, thanks in part to backup quarterback Nick Foles and that stellar defense, who stuffed the Falcons on a critical fourth down to take a 15-10 victory and move on to the NFC Championship Game.
Many figured that the Eagles were going to be left for dead after Wentz went out for the year with his injury. It was also believed that their defense was not going to be able to stop this tough Falcons offense from marching down the field. Well, for the Falcons, they couldn’t march and they couldn’t stop Foles when they had to. All in all, it was a very disappointing end to the season for the Falcons.
Here are several things to take away from this NFC Divisional game.
Takeaways From The Eagles Win Over Falcons
If you’re looking for an MVP for the Eagles, take a long look at Foles. He had struggled early on in this game with a few poorly-thrown passes. After that, he was different. He’s come a long way since 2013 where he only played ten games and completed just 64 percent of his throws.
In his last two starts before being shipped out of Philly, Foles went 23 of 49 for 202 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, and a passer rating of 48.2. Those were outcast numbers. On Saturday, however, Foles put together a game that will change the narrative of him going forward.
He completed 23 of 30 passes for 246 yards and no turnovers. That’s something a good quarterback needs to put together to make it in this league. He put together a complete game, even if there weren’t many points put on the board.
No Offense From The Falcons
The Falcons looked like their offense of old when they ran all over the Rams last week. On Saturday, however, it looked like the offense hadn’t seen the field in a very long time.
Against the L.A., they controlled the ball for 37:35, including most of the third quarter. They ran 72 offensive plays, with 39 of them coming in the running game. Against the Eagles, they only had 59 plays, 20 of which were runs. An argument can be made that the skill of the Rams run defense isn’t quite that of the Eagles, which would explain the Falcons lack of success running the ball.
That being said, the Falcons still had a chance. On a fourth down play late in the game, quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones made a terrific pitch and catch for 20 yards. Moving the ball through the air came with ease, but their commitment to the run proved to be their downfall.
All in all, the Falcons offense should’ve played better. They were going up against an Eagles defense that ranked seventh against the run and third overall. Their struggles are understandable, but they had a real chance to win the game.
Effectiveness of the Eagles
Not only did he rely on Foles, who settled down and made timely throws to gain yards, but the wide receiver corps for this team stepped up as well. Alshon Jeffery had four catches for 61 yards while the rookie, Corey Clement had five receptions for 31 yards.
The offense did its job the way they wanted to. They understood that they had to make good plays against this tough Falcons team. They did just that, thanks in part to the offense, the defense, and Pederson. He gets a lot of credit for how this team played and executed in a winning effort.
Eagles Pass The First Test
For the Eagles, it’s very simple: They won in spite of being the underdogs. They beat the Falcons and are now moving on to face the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship next week.
The Eagles survived the divisional round. Now they must reload and prepare for the mighty Vikings. It’s going to be one interesting matchup next week when these two “underdogs” get together in Philadelphia.