Jeffery takes all the blame for defeat
His teammates and coach defend receiver who had five catches for 63 yards against New Orleans.
“He will be better for it. I just told him to keep his head up and keep playing.” — Doug Pederson
– There was no amount of logic in the moments following the Philadelphia Eagles’ 20-14 playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints that could have consoled Alshon Jeffery.
The veteran wide receiver claimed the loss fell solely on his shoulders for allowing a pass by Nick Foles to go right through his hands and be intercepted by cornerback Marshon Lattimore inside the 20-yard line to squelch a potential game-winning drive with under 2 minutes remaining.
Didn’t matter that he finished with a team-high five catches for a team-high 63 yards or that he was their top receiver throughout their late-season resurgence, making clutch catch after clutch catch.
Didn’t matter that, according to teammate Lane Johnson, Jeffery played through cracked ribs suffered in a win over his previous team, the Chicago Bears, seven days earlier.
“I let my teammates down, I let the city of Philadelphia down,” Jeffery said.
Jeffery didn’t even want to be reminded about how he was credited by many of his teammates for first getting them to believe they could win the Super Bowl last year, despite that being his first season with the team.
“Last year is last year,” he countered. “I’m not even thinking about last year. Right now I’m just hurt that we lost this game and the guys who are so special who won’t be returning.
“It will stick with me for a little bit in the offseason. I mean, this team will never be the same. And I know we had something special in this locker room. I just hated the way it ended.”
Alshon remained face down on the turf for so long while the Saints celebrated the gameclinching play that many players thought he was injured.
He was just fine.
Physically. Emotionally, he was a wreck.
Though he listened to all the consolation messages from his teammates, they hadn’t even begun to sink in.
Foles told Jeffery he loved him.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Foles said. “This game is tough. Not everyone can do it. Those moments, you just tell him, ‘love you, just keep going,’ among other things that I’ll keep to myself. But that’s the general message, and that’s what this team’s about, that’s what playing this game is about. It’s about developing relationships.”
Jeffery knows Foles likely played his last game as an Eagle but he wasn’t ready to go there, either.
“We’ll see where the future leads,” Jeffery said, “but loved playing with [injured starter] Carson [Wentz], loved playing with Nick. We’re all a family, so we’re still going to be friendly.”
The Eagles scored touchdowns on their first two possessions and were shut out the rest of the way.
Jeffery’s drop was just one of dozens of mistakes and poor decisions made by the whole team after that opening flurry. It sticks out more only because it was the last.
His teammates know that. His coaches know that.
Everyone has his back.
“Listen, he has made many, many big catches for us this season,” coach Doug Pederson said. “He will continue to do that. I just told him that he’s got to keep his head up and don’t let one play define you. It’s not who he is. He’s too good of a player.
“He will embrace it, obviously. He will be better for it. I just told him to keep his head up and keep playing.”
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery pulls in a reception against New Orleans Saints in the first half of Sunday's game at the Superdome in New Orleans.