Jef­fery takes all the blame for de­feat

His team­mates and coach de­fend re­ceiver who had five catches for 63 yards against New Or­leans.

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Nick Fierro [email protected] Twit­ter @nick­fierro 610-778-2243

“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.

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