Ea­gles use goal-line stand, El­liott FGs to beat Fal­cons

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Sports - By Barry Wilner The As­so­ci­ated Press

PHILADEL­PHIA » Fly Ea­gles Fly.

With the wind and against it.

With Nick Foles en­gi­neer­ing sev­eral long drives, Jake El­liott con­vert­ing three field goals, and the de­fense get­ting stingy in the tight­est spot, Philadel­phia moved into the NFC cham­pi­onship game with a 15-10 vic­tory over the At­lanta Fal­cons on Satur­day.

Foles di­rected bril­liant marches of 74 and 80 yards in the sec­ond half — one into the whip­ping wind, the other with it — and El­liott atoned for miss­ing an ex­tra point by con­vert­ing from 53 yards at the end of the sec­ond quar­ter, 37 and 21 in the sec­ond half. Then the Ea­gles (143) held when At­lanta (11-7) got to the 9-yard line with a first down, and to the 2 on fourth down.

When Matt Ryan’s fi­nal pass sailed over Julio Jones’ head in the end zone, Philly could cel­e­brate its first play­off vic­tory since the 2008 sea­son.

Next Sun­day, the Ea­gles will host ei­ther Min­nesota or New Or­leans for the con­fer­ence crown. The Ea­gles last made the Su­per Bowl in the 2004 sea­son, los­ing to New Eng­land.

“I mean, we just kept be­liev­ing in each other,” said Foles, who be­came the starter when Car­son Wentz, a lead­ing MVP con­tender, in­jured his knee in De­cem­ber. “That was it. Our team never wa­vered, de­fense did an amaz­ing job, spe­cial teams — that’s just been the story this year is that we just all stuck to­gether...”

Foles fin­ished a very ef­fi­cient out­ing by go­ing 23 of 30 for 246 yards.

The Fal­cons, of course, mem­o­rably blew a 28-3 sec­ond-half lead to the Patriots in last year’s Su­per Bowl. They will not get the op­por­tu­nity to atone for it, though Ryan got them close at the end. Jones had nine re­cep­tions for 101 yards, and Ryan was 22 of 36 for 210 yards on a dif­fi­cult day to throw.

De­spite be­ing un­der­dogs as the No. 1 seed, the Ea­gles showed plenty of moxie.

A mas­ter­ful 74-yard, 12play drive on which Foles was 5 for 6 for 70 yards — the only in­com­ple­tion was Jay Ajayi’s drop — led to El­liott’s 37-yard kick into the wind that made it 12-10.

The Ea­gles put to­gether their best drive, an 80-yarder cov­er­ing 14 plays, yet again fal­tered close to the end zone. El­liott added a 21-yarder with 6:02 re­main­ing af­ter coach Doug Ped­er­son briefly con­sid­ered go­ing for it on fourth-and-1 at the At­lanta 3.

Then, as the fans in the Linc held their breath, the Ea­gles held deep in their ter­ri­tory.

“Man, just stay calm,” said de­fen­sive tackle Fletcher Cox, who was a force all day.

“We al­ways talk about that. We’ve been in those sit­u­a­tions dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, so we kind of know how to han­dle those sit­u­a­tions, not try to make a play but let the play come to us.”

And the road to the Su­per Bowl re­mains through Philly.

Fal­cons coach Dan Quinn could have opted to take the wind in the fourth quar­ter af­ter de­fer­ring on the open­ing coin toss. In­stead, he took the ball to start the sec­ond half, but it was the Ea­gles who got the only points of the third pe­riod.

And in the end, At­lanta had to deal with the cur­rents on that fi­nal drive, which in­cluded a 20-yard com­ple­tion to Jones on fourth-and-6.

MICHAEL PEREZ — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Ea­gles’ LeGar­rette Blount scores a touch­down dur­ing the first half of a divi­sional play­off game against the Fal­cons Jan. 13 in Philadel­phia.

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